Appeals court grants Metis Indian status

The Metis flag SUN MEDIA PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM

The Metis flag SUN MEDIA PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM

Giuseppe Valiante, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The Federal Court of Appeal upheld a landmark ruling Thursday that gave Canada's Metis population Indian status within the Constitution, allowing negotiations to begin for all the rights and services that go with it.

But it denied non-status Indians the same title.

In 2013, a lower court ruled that both non-status Indians and Metis should fall under Indian status, which would allow the group to lobby for the same legal rights of non-taxation, hunting and fishing as other aboriginal groups.

The federal appeals court judge ruled the term "non-status Indian" is too broad a designation to be given the same sweeping rights.

The appeals court said that to declare non-status Indians as Indian as described in the Constitution "lacks utility ... The (lower court) judge should not have granted the declaration."

Both Metis and non-status Indian groups claimed victory on Thursday nonetheless.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents Metis and non-status Indians, said the ruling at least conceded that non-status Indians are under federal jurisdiction, and so can negotiate for more money from the federal government.

The office of the minister of aboriginal affairs said Thursday the government's "priority is to create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians, including Metis," but stopped short of committing to a Supreme Court appeal.

"We are reviewing all elements of today's decision to determine next steps," the ministry said.

Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council, said Thursday's ruling "acknowledges who are the Metis and also places the historic Metis nation on the same plane as Indians or other Fist Nations such as the Inuit."

Congress National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee said "this whole process is going to be recorded in history."

She said she is pleased with Thursday's ruling, which she called "a long overdue recognition of equality."


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