On Apr. 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Métis are recognized as “Indians” under Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867, as a result of the Daniels vs. Canada case. The Métis are now included as one of the three Indigenous groups recognized as “Indians” under the Constitution Act of 1867, along with First Nations and Inuit. As result of the ruling, the federal government is now responsible for negotiating with the Métis as a nation.

This decision establishes that the Métis Nation can approach the federal government about issues relating to their citizens, and the government has a positive responsibility to acknowledge, discuss, and negotiate issues brought forward by the Métis Nation.

Frequently Asked Questions


Since the Métis are considered “Indians” now under the Constitution Act of 1867, do we have the same access to health benefits and government programs as First Nations and Inuit?

No. Even though the Métis are now recognized as “Indians” under the Constitution Act, each of the three groups considered “Indian” are still defined and recognized as their own distinct group with their own rights. The ruling in the Daniels case means the Métis, as “Indians”, can negotiate with the federal government about Métis rights and possible health benefits and access to government programs in the future.

Each of the three Indigenous groups of Canada (Métis Nation, Inuit, and First Nations) are recognized as culturally distinct groups with their own separate identity, history, language, and culture.


Does this mean the Métis are "status Indians" under the Indian Act?

No. The Métis are recognized as “Indians” under the Constitution Act of 1867, but this does not apply to the Indian Act. The Métis are not “status Indians”.  


Why is this decision so important for the Métis?

The ruling that Métis are recognized as “Indians” will help create a foundation for future discussions with the federal government about Métis rights, interests, issues, and claims. In the past, both the federal and provincial governments refused to take jurisdiction over the Métis, denying them access to federal programs and services available to First Nations and Inuit. This caused the Métis Nation to become a “political hot potato”, bouncing between both levels of government without a specified process or place to have their rights and claims addressed. Now, the federal government is responsible for negotiating with the Métis Nation.

The Supreme Court recognizes the Métis as a culturally distinct group within the legal term “Indian”, just as it recognizes Inuit as “Indian”. The Métis are considered “Indians”, but still have their own separate identity, history, language, and culture distinct from Inuit and First Nations.


Is Métis culture affected or compromised by this decision?

No. The Daniels case ruling is not about the Métis becoming “Indians” in a cultural sense. The Supreme Court recognizes the Métis as a culturally distinct group within the legal term “Indian”, just as it recognizes Inuit as “Indian”. The Métis are considered “Indians”, but still have their own separate identity, history, language, and culture distinct from Inuit and First Nations.


Do the Métis still have to pay taxes?

Yes. The Daniels case ruling means the federal government is responsible for negotiating with the Métis Nation. The ruling has no effect on existing Métis taxation. This could change through negotiations with Canada.


Do the Métis now get free health care?

No. The Daniels case ruling means the federal government is responsible for negotiating with the Métis Nation. The ruling has no effect on existing Métis health care.This could change through negotiations with Canada.


Does this decision affect Métis hunting and fishing rights?

No. The Daniels case ruling means the federal government is responsible for negotiating with the Métis Nation. The ruling has no effect on existing Métis hunting and fishing rights. Métis Harvesters can still hunt according to the Metis Laws of the Harvest. Additional information can also be found on our website at http://www.mmf.mb.ca/harvester_application.php.


Does this mean the federal government controls the Métis now?

No. This ruling means the federal government has the ability to legislate in relation to Métis issues and discuss those issues with the Métis Nation on a nation-to-nation basis.


Do I need a new citizenship/membership card?

No. The ruling has no effect on the existing Métis Nation’s membership/citizenship definition.

For more information on citizenship please visit: MMF Citizenship/Membership


What's in Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867?

When Canada was first created in 1867, various ‘jurisdictions’ were divided up between the federal and provincial governments, designating what each level of government was responsible for addressing. Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act states the federal government has “authority over all Aboriginal peoples”. Until now, the federal government denied that the Métis were included in Section 91(24). The ruling in the Daniels case ensures the federal government now has legislative responsibility to the Métis Nation.


Does this ruling do away with the Powley Test?

No. This ruling does not remove the Powley Test as set in R v. Powley (2003). The Powley Test is a process used to identify and define Métis rights through a set of criteria. The Constitution of the Manitoba Metis Federation adheres to the Powley Test. Article III: 1(a) of the MMF Constitution states:

“Métis” means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry, is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples and is accepted by the Métis Nation;

Read the Manitoba Metis Federation Constitution


For more information on what this decision means, please read:

The Daniels Case at the Supreme Court of Canada: A Case of Simple Clarifications with Significant Consequences

“Another Chapter in the Pursuit of Reconciliation and Redress…”: A Summary of Daniels v. Canada at the Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court Judgement: Daniels v Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Video: What the Daniels decision says about Metis identity – APTN InFocus

 

Should you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Manitoba Metis Federation at communications@mmf.mb.ca or by telephone at (204) 586-8474.