Kátł’odeeche taking GNWT, Métis orgs to court over ‘unauthorized’ cabins

Chief says cabins are an "infringement of its Treaty and Aboriginal rights and titles".

April Martel is the chief of K'atl'odeeche First Nation. (Image retrieved from a KFN video on its land code)

The Kátł’odeeche Fırst Natıon is suing the territorial government, the Northwest Territories Métis Nation (NWTMN), the Hay River Métis Government Council (HRMGC) and its president, Trevor Beck.

In a news release, the First Nation says the legal action comes after years of silence from the territorial government on “unauthorized cabin construction” within its traditional territory.

KFN says it’s built a cabin inventory over the past four years and proposed a management plan to the department of Lands, but never received a response.

KFN says the NWTMN and HRMGC have been building cabins in Thagai Dehé (Whitesand River) in the Ejıé Túé (Buffalo Lake) area, and at Denı́ Dea (Birch Creek) without KFN’s consent.

April Martel, KFN’s chief, claims the Métis organizations’ Section 35 rights “have not been ‘recognized’ or ‘established’ by any government or in any court, and certainly not by KFN.”

Garry Bailey, president of the NWTMN, told CKLB he had no comment on the legal action, but maintained that, “Our section 35 rights stand and is supported by the UN Declaration,” referring to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights for Indigenous Peoples.

The First Nation is calling on the territorial government to “set an example of honorable conduct and uphold its laws and obligations”.

CKLB reached out to the territorial government for comment and a response from Shane Thompson, minister of Lands.

“As is is currently before the courts, the Minister will not be commenting on this matter,” said Trista Haugland, cabinet spokesperson.

The proceedings will take place at the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories.

A map delineating Kátł’odeeche Got’ı̨ e Ndehe (traditional territory). (Retrieved from KFN’s website)

Updated July 17, 2;30 p.m. with comments from GNWT.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.