THUNDER BAY – The Federal Court of Canada has released its ruling in Daniels v. Canada. The case has been before the courts for a long time. The court previously had struck down the motion brought before it. 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 ruling is likely to impact changes to hunting and fishing rights for Métis people. The fourteen year court battle is now over, and the moves are now up to the Government of Canada.
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée, CD., (Rtd) said, “I have a good relationship with the Canadian Government. This issue needs to be at the negotiation table. I am open to talking with Government”.
“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).
“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.”
Backgrounder on Métis
A talk at Lakehead University on Métis history and rights.