The president of NunatuKavut says a Federal Court of Appeal ruling on the rights of Métis people last week is a major win for his aboriginal group.
The Federal Court of Appeal upheld a landmark ruling on Thursday that could extend Ottawa's responsibilities to aboriginal people who are not affiliated with specific reserves, and have essentially no access to First Nations programs, services and rights.
Todd Russell said the 14-year legal battle settled the question of which government holds responsibility for the Métis people.
"It stops the political footballing of saying, 'The people of NunstuKavut, formerly known as the Labrador Métis Nation — who takes responsibility when it comes to programs and services? Is it the federal government? Is it the provincial government?'" Russell said.
"Right now, with this court case, we have clarity — it is the federal government."
According to Russell, the legal victory is a big step for aboriginal people in Canada.
"This is not just good for the people of NunatuKavut, this is good for the people of the province, this is good for the people of the country," said Russell.
"You cannot continue to deny people their rights, you cannot continue to deny people programs and services that they have every right to be entitled to, so this is a major victory."
Ottawa can still appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Canada.
However, Russell said he's hopeful the federal government will start land claim negotiations with NunatuKavut instead of continuing the legal fight.
He said if the federal government decides to pursue further legal action, he's confident it will end with another win for Métis people.