The president of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation (NWTMN) is defending the group’s proposal to erect a road sign near Hay River, welcoming visitors to its traditional territory.
Garry Bailey was reacting to a news release issued this week by the Hay River-based Katlo’deeche First Nation (KFN).
The KFN states that it would be wrong for the Metis Nation to claim the area as its traditional land when according to the First Nation – it is their traditional land.
Bailey says the NWTMN has applied to the town of Hay River to erect a sign at the intersection of Highways 2 and 5, near Hay River.
Bailey agrees that it is KFN traditional territory but adds that it is, in fact, Metis territory as well.
He says it is shared ancestral land and the KFN should celebrate that, not fight it.
Bailey adds that Indigenous groups should use their time to challenge the Federal Government on its decisions affecting Indigenous groups, not battling each other.
Bailey says the NWTMN was never trying to claim the land as its own.
He says the Supreme Court’s decision a few years back granting Metis in Canada full Indigenous status means that they can claim the same rights as all Indigenous people in Canada.
Bailey adds he expects the sign to be erected “before the snow flies.”
CKLB News reached out to the territorial government’s Department of Infrastructure, which oversees highways, to find out the policy when it comes to erecting signs on NWT Highways.
They were expected to respond in the coming days.