Federal Court Recognizes Mètis and non status Indian Rights

(Vancouver, BC) –The BC Mètis Federation applauds a Federal Court ruling today that recognizes and reinforces Mètis and non status Indian rights in Canada under section 91(24) of the Canadian Constitution of 1867. The off reserve community is an estimated population of 600,000 and access for health care, education, and other Aboriginal rights have been largely ignored by governments despite Constitutional protection. For years Mètis communities and organizations have called the inequality of defining Aboriginal rights and access as discriminatory. This has led to fighting between a Federal and Provincial Governments disputing about who is legally responsible for the Mètis people of Canada and in British Columbia. Moreover this jurisdictional confusion has also created tension between Mètis and First Nations.

Deceased Mètis leader Harry Daniels led the original legal action in the 1999 when he had sought to have the court clarify whether Ottawa or the Provinces were responsible for the more than 600,000 Aboriginal peoples across Canada who are either Metis or live off-reserve. This case was advanced to address issues such as:

  • Access to the same health-care, education and other benefits made available to status Indians;
  • Being allowed to hunt, trap, fish and gather on public lands; and,
  • The ability to negotiate and enter into treaties with the federal government.

The Daniels case also sought a ruling on the Crown’s “fiduciary duty” to Metis and non-status Indians and asked that the court agree that Metis and non-status Indians have the right to be consulted and negotiated with, in good faith, by the federal government on a collective basis through representatives of their choice, respecting all their rights, interests and needs as Aboriginal peoples.

BC Mètis Federation President Keith Henry stated, “This is a major victory today. Mètis people in British Columbia and Canada have been discriminated against for long enough. Historic Mètis communities in BC such as Kelly Lake have been ignored for years by either government. This ruling solidifies the fact that all Mètis people have rights and deserve equal access as all status Indians. The Federal Government has denied this legal view for years and will likely appeal this latest decision to the Supreme Court of Canada despite verbal assurances that they always want a new relationship. In fact earlier this year a Senate Committee met with organizations across Canada to better understand who is Mètis and one wonders how this work is related to this decision today.”

CourtSummaryBC Mètis Federation President Henry further added, “The Federal Government is also obligated to respect who the Mètis community wants to choose as their representation which as significant meaning for Mètis in British Columbia. The Federal Government has ignored calls for Mètis governance reform in British Columbia for years and discriminated against the needs of our people. The Federal Government, through their Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), acts like judge and jury over who they will recognize. This is in backwards, it is up to the people who they decide to represent their needs and the current state of Mètis representation across the country has resulted in years of apathy and dysfunction. As Mètis people we best understand who we want to represent our interests and the interference is further evidence of discrimination.” BC Metis Federation President Henry concluded; “On behalf of our communities and members I want to thank the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and their team for advancing this very important case. I also want to acknowledge the late Harry Daniels who passed away fighting to address this discrimination across Canada. What is important now is assuring on reserve First Nation leaders that this decision cannot be a game in the future where the Federal Government plays off reserve interests against on reserve. This is typically what happens in a divide and conquer process and we as Aboriginal leaders must ensure that we are all working together to not allow the Federal Government to attempt such actions. Moreover this latest Federal Court ruling further stresses the need for Mètis across Canada to carefully consider who is representing your interests and how your voice is being heard. The ruling recognized that you have a choice, it is not up to government funded agencies alone. I believe the Federal Government will further appeal the case and we must be prepared to continue to let this Federal Government know that years of further delay s to address our needs are unacceptable. Today as Mètis and non status Indians we can support this through Idle No More and demand immediate action. ”

BC Mètis Federation will continue to review the situation and provide timely updates.

To Join the communication wave, press the like button on our-Facebook: www.facebook.com/BCMetis or via Twitter https://twitter.com/Keithhenrymetis.

Stay tuned for the up and coming newsletter that is to be published in the New year, if you would like to add an article or news story from your community send your information to e.bitterman@bcmetis.com.
For more information about the BC Mètis Federation please review our website www.bcmetis.com.

Media Inquiries:
Keith Henry
President
BC Métis Federation
#300-3665 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
Office 1-604-638-7220
Cell 1-778-388-5013
Email k.henry@bcmetis.com
You can follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis

Background
BC Mètis Federation is a provincial nonprofit Mètis representative organization in British Columbia formed in 2011 to address the socio-economic and rights based needs of Mètis people. Today BC Mètis Federation represents the interests of approximately 6300 Mètis people throughout British Columbia. This includes agreements with Mètis community organizations in Kelly Lake, Surrey, Vancouver, North Saanich, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Williams Lake, Langley, and Prince George. Individual BC Mètis Federation membership reached throughout BC and a number of service delivery agreements have been signed with Mètis agencies who have agreed to serve the needs of BC Mètis Federation members.

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17 Responses to Federal Court Recognizes Mètis and non status Indian Rights

  1. Richard Lucier-larson January 8, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Tansi all :
    I hope I am the first on this forum to extend thanks to the Late Harry Daniels and his years of efforts.
    Please note that the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples were the original leading force who made this happen.
    Yes I acknowledge that the Government of Canada will appeal this, but they have been give a big setback .
    Long Live the Metis Nation and the Metis people.
    Richard Lucier-larson
    A proud member of the B C Metis Federation

  2. marlene Swears January 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    oh be very careful of those shiny beads . We have the opportunity to be heard for many generations don’t settle for a quick pension at the end of your work life think of those who are coming after you expire let them be proud of who we are and who they will continue to produce. IDLE NO MORE must not be sold for a sack of sugar and some flour.

  3. Keith January 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Thanks Marlene,

    Yes your words are very true. Remember all this is simply a Federal court ruling and the Federal Government through the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada along with the Prime Minister will have to decide how they will react.

    As stated in our press release we assume the Federal Government will likely appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada and bog this down for a few years yet.

    However, this is a victory for Metis and non status Indians but we all need to keep the pressure up on the Federal Government as likely things will not change anytime soon.

    Thank you for the comment Marlene.

  4. Beverly January 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Here we go I said something big was coming for us in 2013
    I am grateful they are regonizing our right,we helped form Canada,for what it is today…
    But we have to be careful,,and not grab the carrot.(almighty buck).We all know thats what they did years ago with off reserve natives…
    I ask all of you ..to read between the lines and I will never give up my Metis Name and definition of our who we are and our special Culture…It means infinity,and will be there for ever and our grandkids will be protected–.this is so intense..
    I am also grateful we have this Metis Summit coming up in April folks, in Prince George.
    Why not get feedback now…its our future.and get your family registered with an honest organization,like BC Metis Federation NOW…..sounds like this funds will be allocated to ???? So do your home work,,,get your freedom card today.

    • Sharron Montgomery January 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      So Did The half breeds In the East Wake up!

  5. Sharron Montgomery January 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Keith
    Does this mean I can get my Provincial card now, as to being an Indian of Canada Thank you Sharron Montgomery .??

  6. Keith January 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Thanks Sharron,

    I believe this means all mixed blood people need to be fully aware of what has just happened. I am not sure the Federal Government will automatically rethink how they are doing status Indians but clearly a major change is underway.

    That is why BC Metis Federation is having a summit in April about Metis identity in BC and how can our organization better address membership in the future.

    This is a major issue as CAP represents a more broad definition of who Metis are as follows:

    Metis people are located in all of the provinces and territories of Canada. These persons, who may or may not be entitled to status under the Indian Act, are Metis culturally, historically, and for purposes of constitutional recognition. Some of this group are a distinctive mixed blood population, others are closely identified with the history and culture of the French/Cree Metis in southern Manitoba and central Saskatchewan in the 1860s.

    A third group identifies themselves in terms of specific Tribal connections but are collectively distinct as social communities (e.g., Bush Cree/Metis; “BayMetis” in Northern Ontario, and Gwitchin Metis in the northern McKenzie). Specific objectives of these groups vary considerably, but usually include claims settlement in connection with related bands/Inuit settlements (the MNNWT and LMA), claims settlements for small groups of Metis in Ontario and joint initiatives for programs, services and selfgovernment for rural and urban groups, usually in common with rural and urban nonstatus and status offreserve Indians.

    You can see this Metis definition is more broad and it is clear the case today recognizes CAP Metis representation outside of Metis organizations affiliated with the Metis National Council.

    Clearly we need a new conversation about Metis identity and BC Metis Federation is prepared to continue asking the tough questions about how best to address this.

    It will be very interesting to see how the Federal Government reacts.

    Thanks Sharron for the question.

    • Ila Ieraci (Flamand) January 11, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Keith this is pretty exciting stuff to finally see come into view! Thanks to you and the crew for moving this front and center and also to CAP. Yes you are so right in thanking Harry Daniels, we should also thank Martin Dunn and Mary Collins as they were the original spearhead that committed long hours to hammer out getting the Metis included in the 1982 Charter of Rights, the Creator bless Harry’s and Martin’s memory and bless their children and children’s children for their good work on behalf of the Metis. As for Mary Collins, my very dear friend, thankfully she is alive and with us still. Huge thanks to you Mary my dear, for making the many pots of coffee and food provision to keep the men hammering away at the job before them. People we need to give thanks and appreciate those among us who continue the battle and who have been in the trenches for so long a time without giving up or giving in.

      Have a blessed Shabbat all.

  7. Paulette Flamond January 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    I too will never give up my identity as a Metis person but I do believe in honoring the fight that was started in 1999. I look forward to continuing to support Idle No More and encourage all Aboriginal people to vote in the upcoming provincial election. I believe if we vote as Aboriginal people we can overturn the goverments in this country. Happy New Year!!

  8. wes January 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    I totally agree that the first nations and the Metis should all be recognized as one. I fully agree it is about time that these discrepancies with the government be settled(NOW) I am a Metis and proud of it.
    IDLE NO MORE—— YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  9. Garry Martin, Dit Barnabe January 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Dear BCMetis everyone

    l am Garry Martin,Dit Barnabe Two last name,BCMetis Veterans,Canadian Aboriginal Veterans,Canadian Peacekeeping veterans From Hudson Hope,b.c. and This is my cousin Harry Daniels from regina beach,sask, l am here Hudson Hope,b.c. and Harry daniels take me for walk in regina beach,sask talk about metis nations,first nations l know everything Harry daniels said to me many year talk about metis nations and first nations. my family in regina beach,sask many many year and you listen to me my word about My Cousin HARRY DANIELS and you go with President Keith Henry BCmetis all time l am Garry Martin BCMetis Veterans and this is my Great-Uncle LOUIS RIEL My family. thank you metis People god bless to everyone.
    Garry Martin & Dit Barnabe
    BCMetis Veterans

  10. Christine H January 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    Personally I think that this is an opportunity to get people talking about Metis people. It is up to us as Metis people to demand to be recognized. I agree with the earlier comments about being careful of what this ruling actually means I am going to take it as a positive that all of the hard work that organizations (like the BC Metis Federation) are doing for our Metis people is not going unnoticed. Walk tall and be proud to be who you are – strong Metis people!!!

  11. Richard Lucier-larson January 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Tansi All;
    I agree with all but be very careful, Harvesting rights yes but don’t just go out and shoot everything in sight, If in need of food do the usual Metis thing, but keep your mouth shut.
    There is no need for fighting in courts, the basis is there. I was through the “Powley Case” hunting rights in Alberta, but some overly vocal Metis did not do us any good,

    Then the Provinces Natural resource minister caved in the the Fish and Game lobby so hunting rights was lost then has come back based on a case by case court action, that costs a lot of $$ just to shoot a deer or duck.
    We need a coordinated action plan before anyone try’s anything. The cheapest way is to take out a hunting License. Remember there is no funds available to fight a court case. There are other ways to do it, so lets give it a try or wait and see if we do become First Nations in law, no court case needed.
    Richard Lucier-larson

  12. leona mason January 9, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    I agree with richard larson we need to not jump the gun so to say. read between the lines. it is a great day for us as we finally are recognized. Reil and gabreil dumont are dancing the jig. we will have wait and see what will happen next. proud to be metis. all my relations.

  13. Dave Ward January 9, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I applaud our leaders for the untiring fight for the Metis peoples.
    So often discouraged and unrewarded, we support you in all you do.
    This is and will continue to be a long hard battle for rights long denide.
    I feel that our strong, proud people are getting stronger.
    Listen to the elders, they are grounded, and very wise.

    Dave
    Zone 6
    Alberta

  14. Metis 2012 January 10, 2013 at 7:55 am #

    Federal Government: Psssttt… We’ll make you a deal, stop fighting the enbridge pipeline and go away and we wont appeal the decision.

    Metis: ***blank stare**

    Federal Government: How do you think we are going to pay for generations of mistakes made to the Metis?

  15. Richard Lucier-larson January 12, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Tansi All:
    Here is quote from Native author Thomas King given in a interview:

    “(Interviewer)
    Isn’t there progress with this week’s court decision, turning Métis people into status Indians?

    (Thomas )The ball is now with the federal government – and they’re going to dribble it into a corner and leave it there.

    (Interviewer)
    You think so?

    (Thomas )
    They’re not going to touch it. And there’s nothing in the court decision that insists the government do anything. So it’s sort of like the apology.

    (Interviewer)
    One solution you discuss in your book is to focus on “practical sovereignty.” Can you explain?

    (Thomas )
    Practical sovereignty is the sovereignty that any nation, no matter what size, has. Look at Canada: We think of ourselves as sovereign, and yet when it comes to border security, we have to work with the U.S. if we’re going to be friends with them. Is that an invasion of sovereignty? In pure terms, yes. But in practical terms, it’s not. Every nation develops their own sense of “practical sovereignty.” The Mohawk, for example, produce their own passports. Not many places accept them, but that’s not the point. The point is control of our own lives. I think that’s what native bands and tribes will be looking at as these discussions go on. For instance, completely controlling our own membership. Controlling our land base and controlling any profits that come from that land base or any use of that land base. Right now, the federal government can force leases on tribes. That can’t keep happening if we expect to succeed as nations.”

    I see this as perhaps a good suggestion that we as the B C Metis Federation can do at any time, Passports anyone ?

    Richard Lucier-larson

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