It could be a land mark day for Métis and non-status Indians.
The Federal Court of Appeal is scheduled to release a monumental decision which will answer the question of their rights as as Indians under the Constitution.
The plantiffs representing 800,000 non-status Indians
and Métis people say they are the most disadvantaged of all
The Government of Canada appealed a lower court decision that allowed this group to negotiate access to federal programs and services. That Federal Court ruled that 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status Indians
in Canada are indeed "Indians" under the Constitution Act, and fall
under federal jurisdiction.
Federal Court Judge Michael Phelan wrote that, "The recognition of Métis and non-status Indian as Indians under section
91(24) should accord a further level of respect and reconciliation by
removing the constitutional uncertainty surrounding these groups,"
The case has roots going back 15 years when the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and several Métis and non-status
Indians took the federal government to court in 1999 alleging
discrimination because they are not considered "Indians" under a section
of the Constitution Act.
If the Federal Court of Appeal rules against Ottawa, the issue will most likely end up at the Supreme Court for a final ruling.