The following items are a list of frequently asked questions and answers related to the Supreme Court of Canada rulings on the Daniels v. Canada case. These items are provided for members of the Native Council of Prince Edward Island (NCPEI) as well as any non-members in the general public.
What was the court ruling?
The Daniels case was a victory for the Métis and non-status indigenous community because they are now recognized as “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act. The rulings also stated that the establishment already exists in Canadian law, whereas the federal government has a fiduciary relationship and a duty to consult and negotiate with Aboriginal peoples, now including Métis and non-status peoples.
In more detail, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the Daniels v. Canada case and ruled on three points. Those points, or questions to be answered, are as follows:
- Are Métis and non-status peoples “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act?
- Does the Queen or, by virtue, the Federal Government of Canada owe Métis and non-status peoples a fiduciary duty as Aboriginal/Indigenous people?
- Do the Métis and non-status peoples of Canada have the right to be consulted and negotiated with by the federal government as Aboriginal/Indigenous people?
The rulings stated, or answered the questions, as follows:
- Yes, Métis and non-status peoples are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act.
- Due to the fact that Métis and non-status peoples are now “Indians” under the Constitution Act, the answer regarding the Queen, or Federal Government of Canada, owing Métis and non-status peoples a fiduciary duty as Aboriginal people has already been established in Canadian law.
- Due to the fact that Métis and non-status peoples are now “Indians” under the Constitution Act, an answer regarding the Métis and non-status peoples of Canada having the right to be consulted and negotiated with by the federal government has already been established in Canadian law.
What does this really mean?
This means that Métis and non-status people are now recognized as “Indians” under the Constitution Act and that their rights, as well as the government’s responsibilities to them, are well established. This means that we, at the NCPEI, can look forward to real engagement at the provincial and federal government levels. This means that such engagement will proceed in a more meaningful manner, to secure greater access to programs and services for the Métis, non-status and off-reserve status peoples in PEI. This means that there is real opportunity for significant, positive change ahead.
Will everyone who is Métis or non-status now get an Indian status card?
No, the court case rulings do not change who is eligible for a status card under the Indian Act. If a person was not eligible for a status card before the ruling, they are not eligible after the ruling. For more information on who is eligible for a status card, how to apply and other related questions, please refer to the following link to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) website:
Who does the NCPEI service?
The NCPEI has provided access to programs and/or services to the status, non-status and Métis peoples residing off-reserve, in traditional Mi'kmaq territory for over 40 years. The NCPEI will continue to provide these services to the off-reserve status, non-status and Métis peoples well into the future. For more information, please feel free to call the NCPEI Head Office at 902-892-5314
What is the total number of status, non-status and Métis people residing off-reserve in PEI?
The current, actual, number is not definitively known, but the NCPEI is working toward a process of clearly identifying this population. The most recent statistics state that there are 4,020 people residing off-reserve who are of Aboriginal ancestry and, of those, 1,785 identify as Aboriginal (based on 2011 National Household Survey statistics).
Does this mean there will be more money and/or funding?
Based on the rulings, Aboriginal Representative Organizations across Canada are expecting access to funding to be increased in relativity to the long-awaited recognition. Also, these organizations are seeking equity in the applied funding model(s) across Canada to be reflective of the high percentage of off-reserve Aboriginal or Indigenous peoples across the country (currently over 70% of Aboriginal/Indigenous people reside off-reserve).
What does this mean for the NCPEI?
This means that the NCPEI membership will have much greater opportunity, reinforced by the rulings and established precedent, to access meaningful consultation and accommodation, relevant services and programing to the Aboriginal/Indigenous community across PEI.
Justly, the NCPEI will continue to act and advocate, with renewed vigour, on behalf of all of the status, non-status and Métis peoples residing off-reserve, in traditional Mi'kmaq territory. The NCPEI will persist in ensuring that the organization and its members are consulted properly and granted access to relevant, meaningful programs and services in Prince Edward Island. This also means that the NCPEI will continue to welcome new members from the status, non-status and Métis Indigenous communities residing off-reserve.