Supreme Court of Canada recognizes federal jurisdiction to deal with Métis and non-status Indian peoples

14 April 2016

Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development), 2016 SCC 12, [2016] 1 S.C.R. 99

On April 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada released its long-awaited decision in the Daniels v. Canada matter. This unanimous decision marks the end of a 17-year journey by the plaintiffs, originally led by Métis leader Harry Daniels, to receive jurisdictional guidance in relation to Métis and non-status Indian peoples. The issue of federal jurisdiction in relation to First Nations and Inuit peoples, the other two Aboriginal peoples of Canada with rights "recognized and affirmed" by s. 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, has been a political "hot potato", with each level of government alternately recognizing and denying jurisdiction to deal with these peoples. The plaintiffs brought the case in the face of much resistance from the federal government, and stated that the issuance of a judicial declaration on that issue and others would assist Métis and non-status Indian peoples by triggering negotiations and in the goal of mitigating chronic gaps in addressing the needs and challenges of Métis and non-status peoples, and further the ongoing project of reconciliation mandated by s. 35(1).

Paul Seaman and Max Faille of Gowling WLG's Vancouver and Ottawa offices represented the intervener Gift Lake Métis Settlement and Guy Régimbald and Jaimie Lickers of Gowling WLG's Ottawa and Hamilton offices represented the Assembly of First Nations.

Read our detailed case commentary.

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