Daniels v. Canada – The Case for Metis Rights
Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)
Court: Supreme Court of Canada
Citation: 2016 SCC 12
Location: SK, ON, NS
Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, which stipulates that the federal government has jurisdiction over “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians”, includes Métis and non-status Indians.
The plaintiffs sought three declarations to resolve issues between the government and Métis and non-status Indians:
1. that Métis and non-status Indians are included in s.91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867
2. that there is a fiduciary duty owed to Métis and non-status Indians by the federal Crown; and
3. that Métis and non-status Indians have the right to be consulted and negotiated with.
At trial, the Court concluded that s.91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 includes all indigenous peoples in Canada, and therefore includes Métis and non-status Indians. The trial Court did not accept the other two declarations. The Federal Court of Appeal also partially upheld the first point, restricting it to only Métis people as defined by the R v Powley test, and excluded non-status Indians completely. The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) restored the decision of the trial judge and declared that Métis and non-status Indians are included within s.91(24). The SCC also declined to uphold the second and third declarations, stating that they had already been established at law, and did not need to be restated.
Why this Case Matters:
Prior to this decision, there was confusion as to which level of government, Provincial or Federal, had legislative jurisdiction over Métis and non-status Indians. With a clear declaration by the SCC that Métis and non-status Indians are included under federal jurisdiction, the federal government can be held accountable for redress. The inclusion of Indigenous people broadly as “Indians” also means that a person does not have to be a part of a defined community to be covered under s.91(24).
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