Métis intervene in Treaty 3 appeal
On May 15, Métis Nation of Ontario
(MNO) President Gary Lipinski and other Métis leaders attended the Keewatin et al. v. Ontario appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.
The appeal is about the harvesting clause in Treaty 3 and Canada’s ongoing role in ensuring these harvesting rights are protected in Treaty 3 territory.
Earlier this year, MNO was granted intervener status in the appeal and has filed written submissions in support of the First Nation appellants. At the hearing, MNO was represented by Métis lawyer Jason Madden.
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MNO intervened because Treaty 3 is unique in the history of Crown-Metis relations: it is the only historic treaty negotiated with First Nations where Métis―as a distinct Aboriginal group―collectively adhered to a treaty. Today, MNO represents the descendants of the Halfbreeds of “Rainy Lake and Rainy River” that are the beneficiaries of Treaty 3 harvesting rights.
MNO is also intervening because this appeal will have broader implications with respect to Canada’s ongoing jurisdiction and responsibility to protect treaty and aboriginal rights under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. This constitutional provision grants the federal government exclusive legislative responsibility for “Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians.” Significantly, the Federal Court of Appeal declared that Métis are included as “Indians” in section 91(24) last month in Daniels v. Canada.
MNO President Gary Lipinski said, “I am pleased that the Métis Nation was here to lend our support to the First Nations in this appeal as well as ensure the our unique perspective and rights were raised before the highest court in the land. I hope this appeal ultimately advances reconciliation with both treaty First Nations and Métis in Ontario.”