Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand, seen here, says MMF has won a “clear and overwhelming” legal victory after a judge ordered the Métis National Council (MNC) to pay more than $200,000 of MMF’s legal costs, relating to an ongoing legal battle between the two organizations. Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By: Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) say they have won a “clear and overwhelming” legal victory, after a judge ordered the Métis National Council (MNC) to pay more than $200,000 of MMF’s legal costs, relating to an ongoing and increasingly hostile legal battle between the two organizations.
On Thursday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered MNC to pay $213,687.57 to MMF for legal costs.
The former ally organizations have been battling in the courts since last January, when MNC filed a statement of claim seeking $16 million in damages from 11 defendants.
Named in the suit are former MNC official and current MMF President David Chartrand, former MNC president Clément Chartier, former MNC official Wenda Watteyne, and well as the entire MMF organization.
Chartrand had been involved with the MNC for more than two decades in a number of roles before leaving the organization in 2021, and Chartier was president of MNC from 2003 before resigning in 2021.
But a growing dispute between the organizations saw Chartrand suddenly pull MMF out of MNC in September of 2021, and at that time MMF said it was because MNC was allowing membership into the organization of people with invalid or questionable claims to Red River Métis citizenship.
The lawsuit claims that while still in their roles with MNC, Chartrand, Chartier and others were taking money that belonged to MNC and putting it instead into the hands of MMF and MMF officials, an accusation Chartrand continues to adamantly deny.
The costs awarded this week are related to MNC’s motion for interim possession of the funds for the Métis Veterans Legacy Program and the Métis Historical Database, a motion that was denied by a judge back in July.
Chartrand is now accusing MNC of wasting the legal system’s time, and wasting Métis people’s money with the lawsuit.
“Today’s decision highlights the frivolous nature of the MNC’s claims,” Chartrand said. “The organization is wasting the Court’s time and the financial resources of Métis people for the sole purpose of destroying reputations.
“Remember, the legal fees MNC must pay are in addition to their own. Simply put, is this money taken from the kitchen tables of Métis families in Saskatchewan and Alberta?
“Métis deserve better from those who claim to represent their interests.”
Chartrand added he is happy with the judge’s decision in July not to approve MNC’s motion for interim possession of funds for the Métis Veterans Legacy and Métis Historical Databases.
“The priority for the MMF will always be ensuring justice for Red River Métis Veterans who answered the call to serve their country during times of peace and times of global conflict,” Chartrand said
“I will defend the legacy of our Veterans so they are never forgotten, it would be a travesty to take this away from them.
“I will not let it happen.”
According to MMF, the MNC was also ordered to pay them $50,000 relating to another unsuccessful motion back in September, bringing the total amount of MMF legal fees paid for by MNC in the lawsuit so far to more than $250,000.
When speaking to the Winnipeg Sun in January of 2022, soon after the lawsuit was filed, Chartrand claimed that all accusations made against him and others in the suit are false, and he said he was confident MMF would prevail.
“If you look at the claims, there is just no basis of fact or law and nowhere here can we even see where they account for any lost funds,” Chartrand said. “Legally there is just nothing here.”
The Winnipeg Sun reached out to MNC for comment, but so far has not received a response.