An important landmark case Harry Daniels et al v. Canada is set to be heard on October 29th 2013 in Ottawa. The case was initiated in 1999 by well-known Métis leader – Harry Daniels – when he was President of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (“CAP”). Harry is credited with being instrumental in ensuring the Métis were included in s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
On February 6th 2013 the Federal Government appealed the Daniels case with a quote from the legislature by Honourable Duncan:
”Mister Speaker the Government of Canada must ensure that programs and services for Aboriginal people are fiscally sustainable. We continue to work in partnership to enhance the economic opportunities for Métis and non-status Indian. Given that court decision raises complex issues it is prudent for Canada to obtain a decision from a higher court. After careful consideration Canada has filed an appeal and this case is now before the courts.”
The Daniels case, launched over thirteen years ago, in 1999, by the late Harry Daniels and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the case challenged the federal government’s denial that:
• Métis and non-status Indians are Indians under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867;
• The Crown owes to Métis and non-status Indians a fiduciary duty as Aboriginal peoples; and,
• Aboriginal people have a right to be negotiated with, on a collective basis, in good faith with the Crown.
The ruling, affirmed that Métis and Non-Status are Indians under subsection 91 (24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The decision to include Metis within the definition of “Indian” in s.91(24) of the Constitution act 1867, is significant for the Métis as it settles, once and for all, the question as to which level of government (federal or provincial) has jurisdiction and responsibility for the Métis people in Canada.
Historically, the Province has always asserted the Métis are a federal responsibility and, conversely, the federal government has always asserted that the Métis are a provincial responsibility. At the core of the Daniels v. Canada case was about settling the ongoing dispute about who has legislative jurisdiction for Métis and non-status Indians.
The BC Métis federation communities and members will be watching this case closely in the up and coming week. It is one of the most important cases in our history as Métis people if the decision is supported by the courts, and will mark a new relationship with the government of Canada.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis
[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Danielscaseannouncement2013.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Press Release in PDF[/ilink]