Kapyong Barracks – Native Legal Win #171

Kapyong Barracks – native legal win # 171 – in southern Manitoba. A major  Treaty Land Entitlement native legal win respecting urban lands; that shows that the rise of native empowerment is seriously impacting downtown prime real estate.


Disclosure: The author was federal Treaty Land Entitlement negotiator in the lead up to the TLE settlement with the impacted Treaty 1 First Nations. Having settled the land quantum owing – the issue then became that of TLE implementation – just what lands were available to make up the Treaty 1 shortfall owing to the First Nations?  (Since they never received the proper land allocation quantum in 1871).


Kapyong Barracks (declared surplus by Ottawa circa 2004-07) represented an opportunity for Treaty 1 First Nations to acquire TLE shortfall land in downtown Winnipeg. The name Kapyong is in honour of a major Korean War battle (April 1951) in which Sgt. Tommy Prince, of Brokenhead First Nation served with distinction (as he had in World War 2). Upon his death in 1997, destitute in Winnipeg, he was one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers. A cairn is dedicated in his honour near the Brokenhead community center. In fact, it was Brokenhead First Nation that spearheaded the legal action to acquire the Kapyong Barracks in 2009.


Protracted Litigation became the defining feature of the crown/native dialogue over the last four years; as to whether Treaty 1 natives could acquire all or a portion of this parcel of declared crown surplus (urban) property. The litigation completely tied up the property in terms of city planning, causing consternation throughout all levels of government: municipal, provincial and federal. That will now continue …


The Federal Court ruled on Dec 14 2012: “Canada did not fulfill its obligations. It did not disclose relevant information that it had. It did not respond in a meaningful way to concerns raised…. The matter is more egregious in the 2006 to 2007 period. Canada simply ignored correspondence written by or on behalf of the (native) applicants.

As a result the planned selloff has been halted until the four designated First Nations are properly consulted. As such this is an interim ruling – it does not decide the TLE outcome – instead it keeps the property in legal limbo for the foreseeable future.

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