President's Corner:

Harry Daniels

Biography as submitted by the Daniels Family

Harry Daniels was one of the founding members of the Saskatchewan Métis Society. In Harry’s younger years, he was involved in a variety of labour union concerns. In 1966 to 69, he attended the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in political science. Harry has been involved in and has worked on the serious issues and concerns facing native people throughout Canada for more than 39 years. When Harry was attending university, he travelled to the United States and met with the leaders of the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement to learn their strategies and organizational techniques. His reputation as a radical and outspoken person came about due to these visits, and since then, with the RCMP bugging of his phone and tailing him for years after. Harry served as Administrator for the Métis Society of Saskatchewan. Harry served as native peoples organizer in the North West Territories. For the Lac La Biche Development Corporation in Alberta, Harry served as the research consultant. Harry served native people in a variety of positions, such as coordinator of Field Operations for the Métis Nation of Alberta.

Harry’s first experience with elected office in native associations came in 1972, when he served as Vice President of the Métis Association of Alberta, and during this period, was also a representative for Aboriginal people at the United Nations conference on the Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. During1974-75, Harry held the elected office of Secretary Treasurer of the Native Council of Canada. Harry was the director of Aboriginal Rights Research for the Métis Association of Alberta, and at the same time, was part of the nongovernmental organizational group For Habitat, the United Nations on Human Settlements. At the Constitutional talks in Ottawa in the late 1970’s, the Native Council of Canada had two seats. The Indian women formally requested a seat at the table. When the federal government refused the women’s group, Harry gave up one of the seats of the Native Council of Canada to the Indian women, giving the women’s group a voice at the table. As a national Aboriginal leader, Harry gave his support to the Indian women in their struggle for inclusion in the Indian Act, for he felt if they had no rights, then there would be no rights for anyone. In 1979, Harry served as chairman of the Métis and Non-Status Crime and Justice Commission. Harry has written numerous papers, articles, submission papers, books on subjects relating to the Constitution and Aboriginal rights. Since 1974, Harry served several terms as President of the Native Council of Canada and its successor, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples until the year 2000. In 2002-2003, Harry taught at the University of Saskatchewan in Métis History for the Department of Native Studies. Harry received an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Ottawa.

Harry was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and presently resides at Regina Beach. During the 1970’s and 80’s, Harry was one of the leading Aboriginal leaders in national Constitutional negotiations. He negotiated with four Canadian Prime Ministers, and has been one of the most visible and charismatic modern Aboriginal leaders. Harry W. Daniels is most widely known among Métis people as the man who negotiated the expressed inclusion of “Métis People”, whose rights are protected in the Constitution. Only two people in history have negotiated the expressed inclusion of the Métis in the Constitution: Louis Riel and Harry W. Daniels.

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