The Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples are
distinct Aboriginal peoples whose rights are recognized and
affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
However, the nature and extent of the rights of the
Métis has to date been a gray area as the majority of
case law and judicial and academic commentary has focused on
the rights of First Nations peoples. Less than a handful of
decisions have been rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada
expressly considering the rights of the Métis. The
rights of the Inuit, with a few exceptions, have been dealt
with largely by means of modern treaties and land claim
settlements in northern Canada.
This leaves the Métis. The central legal questions
facing this "forgotten" (as they call themselves)
group of Aboriginal peoples are: "Who are the Métis
for the purpose of Section 35?" and "What rights do
the Métis hold?"
These questions are certainly relevant for businesses
operating in Canada as the answers can ascertain their exposure
to, and help them plan their strategies to deal with,
Aboriginal issues generally. So it with these that a McCarthy
Tétrault partner, Thomas Isaac, begins his discussion
and analysis of the rights of Métis people under Section
35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and reviews related
Thomas Isaac has extensive experience practising nationally
in the field of Aboriginal law. He has just published
Métis Rights, the second book in his
educational series on contemporary Aboriginal law.
Métis Rights addresses such important topics
the meaning of Métis for purposes of
constitutionally recognized Aboriginal rights and the
the term "Indians" and whether the Métis
are "Indians" for the purposes of subsection 91(24)
of the Constitution Act, 1867;
the test for determining entitlements of the Métis
to constitutionally recognized and affirmed Aboriginal
rights, and the nature and extent of such rights;
the challenges the Métis face in making successful
claims of Aboriginal title;
the application of the Crown's duty to consult
the Métis people; and
federal and provincial perspectives on Métis
Current to January 15, 2008, Métis Rights
includes discussion of decisions released in December 2007
— Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v.
Canada (Attorney General) and Labrador
Métis Nation v. Newfoundland and Labrador
(Minister of Transportation and Works) — and
incorporates statistical data on the Métis population
from the 2006 census.
Thomas Isaac is a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in
Canada and has represented industry on such matters before
numerous courts and tribunals, including the Supreme Court of
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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