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 responsibility for MNSI.
CAP agrees with the Supreme Court that today’s decision “will have enormous practical utility” for MNSI people. CAP also agrees with the Supreme Court that the constitutional issue decided today “is all about the federal government’s relationship with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples,” a relationship that has been too often been plagued by avoidance of responsibility. CAP also agrees that today’s decision “guarantees both certainty and accountability.”
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, said 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” said Mr. Dorey, who addressed the media outside the Court today. “But 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.”
CAP and Harry Daniels (a prominent Métis leader and then-National Leader of CAP) launched this case 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. The major problem has been that an estimated 800,000 MNSI across Canada 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 responsibility which has hung over us for generations,” said Mr. Dorey. “We see clearly today in what direction we and our government partner 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.”
CAP looks forward to engaging with Canada to find creative and practical ways to redress what the Supreme Court called the “significant and obvious disadvantaging consequences” of past exclusions.
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