April 14, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) — The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), which represents Métis and non-status Indians (MNSI) and Southern Labrador Inuit in Canada, welcomed today’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Daniels v. Canada case which found that the Federal Government has Constitutional jurisdiction over MNSI.
The Court’s decision marks the end of a historic 17-year legal journey and the beginning of a new day for the nearly 800,000 MNSI living off-reserve, says Dwight Dorey National Chief of CAP.
“As a leader in Aboriginal politics for the past 37 years I have learned to be modest when it comes to predicting the future” says Mr. Dorey, who addressed the media outside the Court today.
“I can say with confidence that today’s decision bodes well for the future of hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised Métis and non-status Indians, who can now move forward with a new sense of pride and purpose.”
The Supreme Court’s decision marks the end of a journey launched by CAP and Harry Daniels (a prominent Métis leader and then-National Leader of CAP) in December 1999. In the nearly two decades since the case became one of the most historic — and contentious — indigenous legal cases in Canadian history.
During this time CAP has spent countless hours and a wealth of resources waging this legal battle on behalf of the estimated 800,000 MNSI across Canada who have been caught in a legislative limbo between Federal and Provincial governments.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision has given us much-needed clarity on the issue of jurisdiction which has hung over us for generations.” says Mr. Dorey
“For years Métis and non-status Indians have been looking at the horizon; now we finally see what direction we should be heading. Now it’s time to begin the hard work that needs to be done to help pave the path forward for our people.”
In addition, CAP believes that today’s decision will be of enormous and practical use for MNSI people. The Court emphasized that it is all about the federal government’s relationship with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples and it is that CAP’s constituency are a part of that relationship which includes a fiduciary responsibility.
The Court found that because of blockages in the past, Canada has discriminated against MNSI (CAP’s constituency) by denying them the programs, services, and recognition that they deserve.
Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court of Canada’s CAP/Daniels decision:
“I thank the Supreme Court of Canada for this historic ruling on such an important matter, bringing much needed clarity to an issue that has lingered for too long.
“The Government of Canada welcomes and respects this decision, which will guide our work with Indigenous peoples to advance real reconciliation and renew the relationship, based on recognition of rights, respect, and partnership. Today’s decision speaks to a renewed relationship with Métis and non-Status Indians, one the Government of Canada has already been actively pursuing.
“There is much work to be done. We are committed to working in partnership with Métis and non-Status Indians on a nation-to-nation basis, along with other partners, to ensure we are following the court’s direction in implementing this decision.
“Making progress will require real co-operation and genuine partnership in order to advance this important dialogue and map the way forward together. This is both the right thing to do and a key path to economic growth for all Canadians.”
CAP looks forward to engaging with Canada to find creative and practical ways to redress these past injustices.