A Victory in the Struggle for Métis Rights

OTTAWA, Jan. 8, 2013 /CNW/ - On January 8, 2013, the Federal Court Trial Division released its long-anticipated judgment in Daniels v. Canada.  The case was initiated by now deceased Métis Leader Harry Daniels, for the purpose of forcing the federal government to acknowledge that Métis people fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and should enjoy rights and recognition comparable to First Nations.

"The recognition we received from the Federal Court today, " explained Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski, "is part of what Métis people have been fighting for since Louis Riel.  By acknowledging that the federal government is indeed responsible for the Métis, we are that much closer to finding our rightful place within the Canadian Federation."

In the ruling, Judge Phelan declared that the federal government has jurisdiction for Métis under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. That head of power states that the federal government has exclusive legislative authority with respect to "Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians." This case effectively finds that Métis are "Indians" within the meaning of s. 91(24). The case also determined that non-status Indians are "Indians" within the meaning of s. 91(24).

The Government of Canada opposed the claim and the case took 13 years before today's decision. "It is frustrating," stated Lipinski, "that the federal government worked so hard to deny its responsibilities but hopefully with this decision we will see a different approach from Canada to the Métis." He added: "Because the federal government did not acknowledge its jurisdiction for the Métis, our progress in areas such as education and health has not been properly supported and no mechanism was in place to deal with Métis land claims and other historic grievances."

"We call on the federal government," concluded Lipinski, "to begin consultations and negotiations with Métis governments. Enough time has been lost fighting these issues in courts. It is now time for the federal government and the Métis to work together."


SOURCE: METIS NATION OF ONTARIO

For further information:

Mike Fedyk
Director of Communications
613-263-4889 (office)
613-314-9402 (cell)
mikef@metisnation.org (e-mail)