Chief calls for halt to Crown land auctions

By Miranda Leybourne

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Garton’s Auction Services, the company hired by the province to run Crown land rental sales, has not been told to pause any upcoming auctions despite calls from an Indigenous organization to halt all activity until it’s consulted, the owner says.

Leases and permits that provide access to additional land base for agricultural purposes are put up for auction by the Manitoba government annually. Next week, several properties will be available to rent for haying, grazing or cropping.

Jerry Daniels, grand chief of Southern Chiefs’ Organization, which represents 34 First Nations in southern Manitoba, has lobbied the province about the issue for over a year. First Nations with treaty and entitlement are required to receive first option to acquire public land that comes up for sale, he stated in a release Thursday, and many Crown land parcels are prime sources for hunting, harvesting natural medicine and holding ceremonies.

“We have every right to have input into what was stolen from us,” Daniels said, claiming that when Heather Stefanson became premier in November 2021, she assured him the Crown auction process would change.

Larry Garton, owner of Dauphin-based Garton’s Auction Services, said that even though Daniels named his company and requested it also pause any upcoming auction activity, he hasn’t heard from the SCO directly.

“We’re hired by the province to  auction  to a third party, so anything like that would have to be directed towards the  agriculture  minister,” Garton told the Sun. “This is the third year in a row for this auction. I don’t know why  the SCO  is all of a sudden panicking.”

But including Indigenous input surrounding Crown lands comes down to respecting treaties, Daniels said. The province signed the Manitoba Framework Agreement on Treaty Land Entitlement in 1997, which says more than one million acres of land would be transferred to First Nations.

“When I learned that more Crown lands are to be auctioned off, without first consulting us, it really has me questioning the premier’s authenticity and commitment to working with First Nations people,” he said.

Reconciliation is a top priority for the Manitoba government, a spokesperson said in an email. The Treaty Land Entitlement consultation process is being followed with Crown land auctions, noting less than 50 per cent of the parcels up for auction are subject to that process. Notice was given to First Nations within the TLE community interest zone 120 days in advance.

“Our government is committed to ongoing dialogue with First Nations leadership regarding resource management and the use and allocation of Crown lands,” the spokesperson wrote.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is working with First Nations in Manitoba to meet outstanding treaty land entitlement obligations, according to the federal government’s treaty land establishment website.

 Miranda Leybourne is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the

BRANDON SUN. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.


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