Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

A “chalet” built illegally in a public forest will be dismantled.

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The building would have been built in the forest. (Archive photo)

  • Raphaël Beaumont-Drouin (View profile)Raphaël Beaumont-Drouin

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A man who built a residence in a public forest in Chaudière-Appalaches without authorization will have to dismantle the building and leave the premises, ruled the Superior Court of Quebec. The occupant of the premises, Simon Lebel, failed to demonstrate his Métis origins in order to retain his facilities.

The Court, in the absence of a defense and in the absence of evidence to support Simon Lebel's assertion that he is legitimate to occupy this territory without authorization from the State, has no other choice than to grant the request of the [prosecutor] concludes Judge Lise Bergeron, in her judgment rendered last month.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The Court orders Mr. Lebel to restore the premises within ten days, failing which, all property on site will be seized, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF) will be able to carry out the work at the expense of Mr. Lebel.

It was MRNF employees who in November 2022 discovered Mr. Lebel's installations, erected in the Lac Central sector in Saint-Zacharie, in the MRC des Etchemins. Vacationers had reported to the authorities the presence of clearing work on these lands belonging to the Quebec state.

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The inspectors then noted the presence of a building under construction in the shape of a chalet, with an accessory building on site. It is then that the Ministry will take legal action before the courts in order to dismantle the installations.

Throughout the legal proceedings, Mr. Lebel does not deny being the occupant of the premises and the author of the development work, but believes that he has the right to occupy these lands, claiming to be a member of the Métis Nation of the Rising Sun.< /p>

The Métis Nation of the Rising Sun, a Gaspé organization which brings together several thousand members, is not recognized as an official First Nation by Ottawa or by the courts.

Mr. Lebel, however, did not succeed in convincing Judge Bergeron of the existence of this Métis community and of his belonging to it. The Powley test, a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, establishes a list of ten criteria, such as ancestral ties or community membership, to determine whether a person can benefit from Métis rights. Simon Lebel's arguments do not meet any of the criteria of this test, according to Judge Bergeron. The man, who represents himself without a lawyer, offers a defense which proceeds with a certain confusion, she writes.

Mr. Lebel does not present any proof establishing the genealogy and no documentary or witness evidence shows that Mr. Lebel is part of a community holding a right to the territory in question.

A quote from Extract from Lise's judgment Bergeron

It seems that what emerges, in the confusion of Simon Lebel's defense, is a problem that is more political than legal, writes Lise Bergeron by way of conclusion.

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