Métis youth (left to right) Brittany Mathews, Kelly Duquette
and Paul Robitaille were among the crowd gathered at the
Supreme Court to receive the Daniels v. Canada decision.
Click here to view a larger version.
The Daniels case was initiated by well-known Métis leader Harry Daniels in 1999. Following trial and appeal court decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada (SSC) heard the case in October 2015 and released its final judgement on Daniels v Canada on April 14, 2016. Click here to view the judgement.
In its unanimous decision, the SCC issued a declaration that Métis and non-status Indians are in s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, and affirmed that the federal Crown owes a fiduciary duty to Métis and non-status Indians; and that Métis and non-status Indians have the right to be consulted and negotiated with, in good faith, by the federal government on a collective basis through representatives of their choice.
At the time of this historic decision, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski stated: “This is a significant victory for the Métis Nation. It will facilitate reconciliation between Canada and Métis communities from Ontario westward.”
President Lipinski noted the need for the federal government to “not delay and move quickly to the negotiating table with Métis governments.” He stressed the importance of establishing a land claims process for the Métis Nation. “Starting negotiations immediately on land claims is essential to deal with the historic grievance of the Métis Nation. We can no longer be a landless people in our own country.”
This past May, the MNO held their general election and Margaret Froh was elected as President of the Métis Nation of Ontario. In response to the Daniels’ decision, President Froh proudly remarked that, “the stars are aligning for the Métis in Ontario. The Daniels’ case marks the end of a historic run-around that the Métis have had for recognition in Canada. The Daniels decision is yet another star that has come into line for our people and it is going to mean long lasting and significant change for the Métis in Ontario.”
President Froh added: “The Daniels’ decision is going to open many doors for us as a people and it’s going to help move us forward towards a process of reconciliation between Canada and our Nation. We’ve got a big job ahead of us. We are going to be taking our seat at the table negotiating a nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government of Canada and we’re going to be dealing with things like lands, like programs and services—things that are going to have real and lasting benefits for our citizens.”
She stressed that the Daniels’ decision does not take away our identity. “We are Métis. We are proud to be Métis. That does not change. It does not impact in any way on our citizenship. It is the citizens of the Métis Nation that will determine who we are as a people.”
She also asserted that the Daniels’ case does not impact in any way on our harvesting rights. “We are going to continue to assert our harvesting rights and to defend our citizens that are out exercising those rights.”
Looking ahead, President Froh sees negotiating self-government as a major goal. “Over the coming months and years, this will be our task. It’s real and lasting change for our citizens and the Métis Nation of Ontario is ready for it.”
The Daniels v Canada judgement has generated great media attention. Below are links to a selection of stories about the case:
Updated on: June 1, 2016
Published on: April 14, 2016