Daniels Appeal Hearing to defend Métis and non-status Indians Rights concludes in Ottawa
(Ottawa) October 30, 2013 – National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Betty Ann Lavallée, CD., (Ret’d), issued the following statement regarding the appeal launched by the Federal Government of Canada in the case of Daniels vs. the Crown.
“After listening to the arguments presented on our behalf, I remain confident that the decision handed down by Justice Michael Phelan of the Federal Court will be upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal” stated National Chief Lavallée. “But I have to ask why the government continues to use the same delay and buck passing tactics as they have been doing since 1999?”
Launched over fourteen years ago, in 1999, by the late Harry Daniels and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the case challenged the federal government’s denial that:
• Métis and non-status Indians are Indians under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867;
• The Crown owes to Métis and non-status Indians a fiduciary duty as Aboriginal peoples; and,
• Aboriginal people have a right to be negotiated with, on a collective basis, in good faith with the Crown.
On January 8, 2013, following fourteen years of legal delays by the Federal Government, Justice Michael Phelan affirmed the position that the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has maintained for the past 42 years: that Métis and Non-Status are Indians under subsection 91 (24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. Additionally, the Federal Court in its ruling recognized that the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples offers “National Representation” to both Métis and Non-Status Indians (MNSI) throughout Canada, and highlighted; “the pivotal role CAP played in advancing this claim – a role that few, if any, individuals falling within the group known as MNSI could do.” “I want to assure our people, that no matter what the outcome, the Congress remains committed to ensuring that the inherent rights of the Métis and non-status Indians are finally recognized once and for all,” added National Chief Lavallée. “We never wanted this continual judicial tennis match. What we simply wanted and asked for repeatedly was for recognition, justice and fairness so that the Métis and non-status Indians of Canada are assured of their rightful place in this country.”
“I ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to stop listening to his justice advisors, and keep the promise that he made to us in 2007 at our Annual General Assembly when he stated that the Congress membership represented the future of our country, and that the Forgotten Peoples of Canada cannot be forgotten or ignored any longer,” concluded Chief Lavallée. “I believed then that he wanted to do the right thing and I want to believe in him now.”
Since 1971, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (formerly known as the Native Council of Canada) has been the National Representative Organization and the National Voice for the constituency and their Affiliate Organizations making up the Congress’ family of advocates for the Off-Reserve, Non-Status, and Status Indians, Métis and Southern Inuit Aboriginal Peoples living in urban, rural, remote and isolated areas throughout Canada. Today, over 75% of Aboriginal People live off-reserve.