Ke Ning/Métis National Council
Clément Chartier, President of the Métis National Council

Métis in Canada Demand Harper Meeting as Court Upholds Status Ruling

David P. Ball

In the wake of a Métis rights case 15 years in the making being vindicated by Canada's highest appeals court, the president of the Métis National Council has called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately enter “government to government talks” with descendants of mixed indigenous and European ancestry.

On Wednesday April 16, the federal court of appeals rejected an appeal by the Conservative government seeking to overturn last year's landmark decision in the 1999 “Daniels case,” which sought to allow Métis people and those who are not enrolled as members of specific First Nations to be given status under the Indian Act. Just over a year ago, the original court declared that, under the country's 1867 constitution, Ottawa must take responsibility for the Métis and thus has an obligation to extend the same social services and legal status as it does for Inuit people and First Nations.

RELATED: Métis and Off-Reserve Aboriginals Await Outcome of Harper Appeal of Court Status Ruling

The appeal decision was immediately applauded by the Métis National Council, whose president announced he would write Harper to request top-level meetings to formally negotiate the relationship between his people and Ottawa. First Nations chiefs as well as Inuit leaders have had similar meetings with federal officials. 

RELATED: Historic Crown–First Nations Gathering Yields Plan, Hopes for Concrete Action

“Ottawa’s non-recognition of Métis for jurisdiction purposes never made sense,” said Clément Chartier, in an April 17 statement. “Logic dictates that it should be Canada’s national government that has a special relationship with the Métis, one of the three Aboriginal peoples in the Constitution and one of Canada’s founding nations.”

He added that the Métis had “always believed” Ottawa bore ultimate responsibility on their issues and concerns, but had failed to “show leadership.” Last year's decision—and the most recent appeal rejection—“buttresses this belief,” Chartier said, adding, “The federal government can no longer shrug its shoulders and assume that Métis matters will be dealt with by others."

There are at least 450,000 Métis across Canada, and according to the ruling by Justice Eleanor Dawson, they were always meant to be “included as 'Indians' ” under the section of the Constitution laying out federal versus provincial authority. Fellow Supreme Court judges Johanne Trudel and Marc Noel agreed.


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Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Interesting read with this Canadian case. The USA could learn something in regards to native peoples who are not recognized as such even to this day. Also, certain tribal nations could learn something from this case as well. Instead of throwing people off or denying their application for membership to the rolls when at one time their ancestors were on the rolls, they should be embracing these folks with open arms: Case in point: Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma refusing to give membership to African American/ Cherokee heritaged people. These folks ancestors were originally members of the Cherokee Nation through either marriage or as former slaves. The US government recognized them as so, yet the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma refuse to recognize these people even when they provide the necessary paperwork & roll numbers of their ancestors that validates their claim for membership in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Do the right thing Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma & give these people their roll numbers. Other tribal nations who are doing the SAME thing; you folks need to do the right thing as well my friends. To deny a person their heritage & tribal rights is wrong in the eyes of the Creator my friends. US government, YOU also need to do the right thing & recognize people for who they are as native peoples. To deny something that is obvious is like sticking your head in the sand. Denying the facts doesn't change the facts folks.