The Missanabie Cree First Nation (“MCFN”) is a landless band that is entitled to reserve land pursuant to the terms of Treaty No. 9 entered into in 1905 and 1906. A reserve has never been set apart for the Missanabie Cree despite repeated requests over the last 100 years. Maurice Law has been representing the MCFN for years in pursuit of a fair and just settlement of its claim against Her Majesty The Queen in right of Canada and the Province of Ontario. Protracted efforts to settle the claim through negotiations, however, have proved unsuccessful because the First Nation has not received an acceptable offer with respect to the amount of land owed under Treaty 9 or sufficient compensation for losses suffered by the First Nation for over a century.
As a result of the impasse in negotiations, the MCFN had no choice but to pursue its claim in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Recently, Maurice Law brought an application for an “Okanagan” style Order for Advance Costs on behalf of the MCFN. In a Decision of the Honourable Madam Justice Stewart on December 5, 2011, the MCFN was granted an Order for Advance Costs which requires the federal and provincial Crowns to pay for the First Nation's reasonable legal costs and disbursements in relation to the trial of issues relating to the interpretation of Treaty 9 and determination of the amount of land owed to the MCFN. The Courts only grant Advance Costs Orders in rare and exceptional cases, so Maurice Law, and the MCFN, are very happy that the Court found that the principles of justice supported the MCFN’s application in this case. Canada has appealed the Decision; Ontario has not.