Daniels goes to the Supreme Court: do feds or provinces have jurisdiction for Métis and non-status Indian peoples?

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal of the decision in Harry Daniels et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen to determine whether Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 so that the federal government has jurisdiction to make laws with respect to those peoples.

In 1999, the applicants instituted proceedings in Federal Court in order to resolve a long-standing issue as to which of Canada or the provinces has jurisdiction over the Métis and non-status Indian peoples. Specifically, they sought to obtain a determination that the federal government has constitutional jurisdiction pursuant to s. 91(24) over Métis and non-­status Indians. In Federal Court, they sought the following declarations:

(a) that Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” within the meaning of the expression “Indians and lands reserved for Indians” in s 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867;

(b) that the Queen (in right of Canada) owes a fiduciary duty to Métis and non-status Indians as Aboriginal people; and

(c) that the Métis and non-status Indian peoples of Canada have the right to be consulted and negotiated with, in good faith, by the federal government on a collective basis through representatives of their choice, respecting all their rights, interests and needs as Aboriginal peoples.

The trial court issued a declaration that Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. On appeal, the court of appeal varied the declaration to exclude non-status Indians.

The parties appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada on the following questions:

  • Whether Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” pursuant to s. 91(24) so that the federal government has jurisdiction to make laws with respect to those peoples
  • Whether  the court of appeal erred in varying terms of declaration
  • Whether the court of appeal erred in declining to grant additional declarations sought by applicants

In a decision issued on November 20, 2014, the SCC granted leave for the appeal and cross-appeal.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Aborginal Law, Constitutional Law and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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