Metis ruling may jeopardize important Metis successes

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that Metis and non-status Indians are “Indians” within the meaning of the expression “Indians and lands reserved for Indians” in the Constitution.

Knowledgeable observers say how exactly this will be interpreted will be up for legislators and future court rulings to determine.

In 2010, I wrote a piece on how what set the Metis specifically apart from status Indians was the relationship they held with the federal government.

Metis in the West did not sign treaties with the Crown, lacked a special legislative framework similar to the Indian Act, and although there were Metis settlments many Metis held land in the fee simple property ownership that is common across Canada.

Metis wanted a land base and political powers but resisted a dependent relationship with government.

Metis did historically lose many lands, but the absence of a protective, paternalistic relationship with Ottawa is a major part of their success.

Modern Metis have higher socio-economic indicators than other Aboriginal communities. They should not allow this ruling to jeopardize that.