On April 14, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision in Daniels v. Canada and declared that Metis and non-status Indians have the right to be treated as “Indians” under the Constitution Act and fall under federal jurisdiction.This is a historic declaration that the Metis have been expecting for over a century.
The Metis National Council described the courts findings as a massive victory for the 6 hundred thousand Metis and non-status Indians that live in Canada.
In this piece, Clément Chartier, President of the Metis National Council explains the impact of the Court’s decision on the lives of Metis people throughout Canada. Prior to this decision, it was not clear whether Metis fell under provincial or federal jurisdiction. For decades, Metis were in a constitutional “no man’s land” since neither level of government took the initiative to address their issues and provide them with social services. Now, while the Daniel’s case does not create any obligations on the federal government to act, it does produce some strong incentives to do so.
Scholar of aboriginal policy and Canadian constitutionalism Christa Scholtz puts the Daniels decision into its historical context. Since 1867, the federal government has jurisdiction over Indians and their land under Section 91-24. However, up until now it was unclear if Metis, who are the decedents of mixed First Nations and European ancestry, were included in this section. In Daniels, the Court ruled that Metis were Indians for the purpose of 91-24. This means that the Metis will not fall between the cracks of provincial and federal jurisdictions anymore.