Who are the Metis?
The Metis are commonly recognized as a cluster of First Nations individuals who are a mix of French, Scottish and Caucasian fur traders. The Metis came to settle in Canada centuries ago and have long been denied their status as “Indians” in accordance to the Canadian constitution.
Aboriginals have long been victims of segregation, discrimination and ethnic cleansing in Canada. Many “Indians” have lost their connection to their mother-tongue due to residential schools and forced assimilation. For this reason, the government accommodates First Nations with some additional programs. Some groups such as the Metis, have fought for years to be recognized as members of the First Nations to gain access to the aid they believe they deserve.
After years of trying to achieve equality, the Metis have finally gained Aboriginal status. Through countless court proceedings, the case was finally taken to the Supreme Court of Canada where a unanimous 0-9 landmark decision determined that Metis will be recognized as “Indians” in accordance to the constitution. Although this is an immense achievement for the Metis tribe, the implications are complex.
The government will now have to consider the following:
1. Who qualifies as a Metis?
2.What financial benefits will be given to the 60,000 Metis who will be impacted, including those who live off-reserves?
3. Who will be eligible for housing, post-secondary education and benefit support?
4.Do mixed blood Metis still qualify for these benefits?
The answers to these questions will likely be determined via additional court proceedings in the years to come. Cases will be brought before the court regarding the complex issues and court decisions will shape the legislation.
While many Metis are rejoicing, some individuals are expressing concerns regarding the future financial implications of the recent status change of classifying Metis as Indians. Individuals are questioning if this new decision will result in billions of dollars being allotted to accommodating the Metis tribe rather than other matters. However, such topics have not yet been addressed by the government. Conversely, some individuals feel that this step is long overdue and the Canadian government should have recognized this group of individual’s decades ago.
Where do you stand on the issue?
Did you learn something new? Do you believe that the Metis should be recognized as First Nations? If so, press “like” and subscribe.
Points of Discussion:
1. Do you have a similar situation in your country? A group of individuals fighting to be recognized as members of a particular group or to gain certain rights?
2. Do you think this step is enough or the government should do more to assist the Metis?
3. How do you feel about the timeline of acknowledging Metis as First Nations?