The Federal Court recently handed down an almost incredible judgment in favor of 200,000 Métis and 400,000 "non-registered" Indians, most of whom live with whites in Canadian cities.
That's a lot of people that. Those are the folks we usually call ‘"off-reserve Indians."
They had been waiting 13 years for that judgement and it came down in their favor making them ‘real" Indians from now on. No more second class status as Indians because they didn't fall under the Indian Act or 1867.
It was a huge win. It cost them a lot. Thirteen long years.
Basically, the judgment states that the responsibilities of the federal government to Métis and "non-registered" aboriginal peoples of Canada is the same as its responsibilities to other Indians, particularly those living in reserve who we like to call "registered" under the Indian Affairs Act..
Now they are all "real Indians" and the federal government must treat them as such. No more telling them that the "belong" to the provinces and the feds can wash their hands of them.
No more two different classes of Indians in Canada.
Justice Michael Phelan of the Federal Court was quite clear: "The recognition of Métis and Non-Status Indians as Indians under section 91 (24) should provide an additional level of respect and reconciliation, by removing the uncertainty surrounding these constitutional groups. "
They could not have asked for better.
The judgment requires the Harper government - because it is currently in power - to consult and negotiate with these two "new" groups of "Indians".
But our prime minister, rather than shouting out with joy : "Thank God , after all these years we have an answer! " decides he's going to fight those Indians all the way to the Supreme Court. So it's back to the courts all over again: Stephen Harper versus the Métis and Non-Status Indians of Canada.
Will it ever end?