Métis Nation Mourns the Loss of Métis Rights Champion Tom Berger

OTTAWA, ON, April 29, 2021 /CNW/ – Métis National Council (MNC) President Clément Chartier issued the following statement today on…

OTTAWA, ON, April 29, 2021 /CNW/ – Métis National Council (MNC) President Clément Chartier issued the following statement today on the passing of Tom Berger at the age of 88 years old following a courageous battle against cancer:

On behalf of the Métis Nation, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Tom Berger who lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Tom is well known as a tireless champion of Indigenous rights in the judicial system. For the Métis Nation, he will long be remembered for his work as counsel for the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) in its land claim against the Government of Canada. Tom was involved in this capacity for most of the 32 year history of the case that culminated in the monumental ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada in Manitoba Metis Federation v. Canada in 2013.

I well remember his masterful presentation of the MMF case before the Supreme Court of Canada when he put the history of Canada and its westward expansion on trial. He carefully documented the role of the Métis Nation as Canada’s partner in bringing Manitoba into Confederation through the Manitoba Act 1870, the constitutional promise of a land base for the Métis in the Act, and Canada’s betrayal of this promise.

The court held that Canada did not uphold the honour of the Crown in its failure to fulfill its constitutional obligation to the Métis. It stated that «the ongoing rift in the national fabric … remains unremedied. The unfinished business of reconciliation of the Métis people with Canadian sovereignty is a matter of national and constitutional import

Shortly afterward, Tom reflected on the decision in the Globe and Mail:

«Indeed, the rift in the national fabric remains unremedied. But the remedy lies with us. It’s not too late for Canada to negotiate a modern land claims agreement with the Métis. We can’t reclaim the past, but we can do justice in our own time.»

These words capture the mindset and message of the man we knew and deeply respected. Thank you, Tom.

The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

SOURCE Métis National Council