Aboriginal Circle

Landmark decision gives “Indian” status to Métis and non-status Indians

January 10, 2013

OPSEU’s Aboriginal Circle praises the recent landmark decision granting “Indian” status to Métis and non-status Indians.  On January 8, 2013, Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan declared that under section 91 (24) of The Constitution Act, 1867, the Federal Government of Canada has jurisdiction over Métis and non-status Indians.  This decision states that the federal government has exclusive legislative authority with respect to “Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians.”  As a result, more than 600,000 Métis and non-status Indians now have a legal entitlement to access education, healthcare, benefits and negation rights in land claims. 

Daniels v. Canada has been a case over 12 years in the making.  Throughout that time, Canada has vigorously resisted the claim of jurisdiction.  It first denied access to its records.  It then claimed that on the basis of insufficient facts, the difficulty surrounding the case should preclude a remedy from being granted by the court.  Fortunately, the Court rejected Canada’s assertions on all of these grounds and emphasized that difficulty cannot be used to deny a remedy.  Judge Phelan further declared that Métis and non-status Indians have a right to know which government has jurisdiction over them. 

This issue has been an important one for Métis and non-status Indians.  For decades, Canada only assumed responsibility for Métis north of the 60th parallel.  Canada also declared that non-status Indians had no place under the Aboriginal Umbrella.  This exclusion has increasingly created a divide between Indians, non-status Indians and Métis as economic restrictions have come into place.  As the court also noted, Canada’s own documents admit that Métis and non-status Indians are more susceptible to discrimination and other social disabilities and “in the absence of Federal initiative in this field, they are the most disadvantaged of all Canadian citizens.”

The Aboriginal Circle is pleased and proud to inform its fellow union sisters and brothers of this glorious victory.  The members look forward to having continued discussions with elected officials on the impact of this decision.  

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