What does the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling for Metis and non-status Indians look like?

What does the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling for Metis and non-status Indians look like?

A landmark victory for the Metis nation in Canada to move forward with national recognition.


The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that more than 600,000 Metis and non-status Indians may gain benefits, legal rights and funding opportunities through federal government jurisdiction on Thursday, April 14th.


Who qualifies Metis and how is it proven?


According to the Metis National Council website, “Metis” means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples by having a combination of ancestry from both European and Canadian ancestry as well as is of historic Metis Nation ancestry with the community’s acceptance.


In addition to having an ancestral component, a connection to the Metis community remains vital for those who wish to prove their connection to history remains alive and well, as many people in modern times have ties to their historical roots.


There is now a database with historical records that trace records of people back to the Metis Nation dating back to the 1900s, which allows some applicants to apply for Metis Citizenship.


Who qualifies as a non-status Indian and how is it proven?


Non-status Indians is a term that commonly refers to people who identify themselves as Indians, which includes some First Nation members, but typically have not been allowed to register under the Indian Act, according to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.


Those who were descendants of Indian women that lost their status during marriage to a Caucasian man, joined the ranks of the Army or some religious traditions and even those who earned a university degree could now qualify for rights to benefits, social programs and services offered through federal agencies.


What does it mean?


The Daniels decision does not mean that non-status Indians and Metis people have become Indians.


Instead, the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling classifies that both groups have become a constitutional responsibility of the federal government as non-status Indians and Metis as now listed under section 91(24) of the Constitution.


That means non-status Indians and Metis now will have access to federal funding opportunities, but neither group has gained the right to live on reserve or  to be governed by the Indian Act. However, there will be an opportunity for both groups of people to negotiate their future rights with the federal government.


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