Federal Court of Appeal confirms that Métis are “Indians” and fall under federal jurisdiction

17 April 2014

On April 17, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal published its reasons for judgment in a federal government appeal of a January 2013 decision by the Federal Court of Canada.

In that decision, the trial judge found that Métis and non-status Indians fall within the term “Indians” in s.91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 thereby ascribing primary jurisdiction to the federal government with respect to the Métis. The ruling granted recognition to over 600,000 Métis and non-status Indians.

During the appeal, Gift Lake Métis Settlement and other interveners in the case -- Métis Settlements General Council, the Métis National Council, Manitoba Métis Federation and the Métis Nation of Ontario -- successfully argued in support of the trial judge’s key finding.

Subject to a possible further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, this decision resolves a decades-long constitutional dispute between Canada’s Métis peoples and the federal government.

Gowlings was counsel to Gift Lake Métis Settlement with a team that included Max Faille and Paul Seaman.


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