Today the parties and interveners in the Daniels case concluded 1 ½ days of legal argument in the federal government’s appeal of Justice Phelan’s decision in January of this year, wherein he found that Métis and Non-Status Indians fall within the term “Indians” in s.91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 thereby ascribing primary jurisdiction to the federal government with respect to the Métis.
There were six interveners in the case: Province of Alberta, Métis Settlements General Council, Gift Lake Métis Settlement, the Métis National Council, Manitoba Metis Federation and the Métis Nation of Ontario. The MNC was represented by Kathy Hodgson-Smith, Marc LeClair and Clément Chartier, while the MMF was represented by Jason Madden and the MNO by Jean Teillet, all of whom are Métis and have been involved in Métis rights litigation for a number of years.
The main reason for the intervention by the MNC, while supporting the Respondent Congress of Aboriginal Peoples’ in seeking to uphold the trial judge’s decision that Métis and Non-Status Indians are included within 91(24), was to address the issue of Métis identity and distinctiveness.
“It was important for the interventions by the MNC, MNO and MMF to address the issue of the distinctiveness of the Métis as found by earlier rulings of the Supreme Court of Canada in Powley, Cunningham and MMF, while putting forward strong arguments that this distinctiveness as a people did not preclude the Métis from falling within the term “Indians” in s.91(24)” stated President Chartier.
In making the arguments, the interveners pointed out the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada in 1939 held that the Inuit were covered by 91(24), even though they were subsequently excluded from being registered as Indians under the federal Indian Act, and that the Inuit are also a distinctive Aboriginal peoples, which is reflected in s.35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 wherein the Aboriginal peoples in Canada are identified as the “Indians, Inuit and Métis peoples.”
The arguments were heard before Justices Noel, Dawson and Trudel who at the conclusion of the case reserved the decision which hopefully will be handed down within the next few months.
Video interview of President Chartier
After 12 years of legal wrangling, the trail finally began in May 2011. On January 8, 2013, the trail judge Michael Phelan of the Federal Court of Canada ruled that Métis and Non-Status are Indians under 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The ruling granted recognition to over 600,000 Métis and non-status Indians. The federal government appealed. The appeal was heard this week.
Click here to view the judgement January 8, 2013
Click here for reasons of decision
Plainspeak on the Daniels Case - A look into the Daniels case and its impact on citizens of the Métis Nation including an overview of the case and a response to frequently asked questions.