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4 ways N.W.T. residents may be affected by Supreme Court ruling on Métis

The Supreme Court’s decision that Métis and non-status Indians are considered 'Indians' under the Constitution may have a number of possible impacts in the N.W.T.

Thursday's decision may mean more funding for groups with settled land claims, easier negotiations for Métis

The Supreme Court's decision that Métis and non-status Indians are considered "Indians" under the Constitution may have a number of possible impacts in the N.W.T.

Canada's top court ruled Thursday that the federal government's responsibilities to aboriginal peoples extend to 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status aboriginal people.

Here are four ways people in the Northwest Territories will be affected by Thursday's decision.

Access to more federal programs

The federal government currently has multiple funding programs available to First Nations and Inuit. Now, Métis and non-status aboriginal people may also be able to apply for that funding.

Lawyer Garth Wallbridge says Thursday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling may open up federal funding programs from which Métis have previously been excluded. (CBC)

"Things like the Youth Employment Strategy, Student Career Placements, work experience programs, business programs for youth, science and technology camp, Métis have been excluded from all of those federal programs and more," says N.W.T. Métis lawyer Garth Wallbridge.

There will now be half a million more people able to access those programs but the federal government has yet to announce if it will be increasing their funding.

N.W.T. Métis groups negotiating land claim agreements

The Supreme Court decision could also affect the Northwest Territory Métis Nation's current land claims negotiations. It has been negotiating a land claim with the federal government in the southern part of the Northwest Territories for more than two decades.

In July 2015, the two sides signed an agreement in principle that gives the Northwest Territory Métis Nation hunting and harvesting rights to what it says is its traditional territory south of Great Slave Lake.

"The fact that they've already been recognized as having indigenous rights and got to a table is good but this is going to make it a bit easier for them, certainly on non-land issues … things like resource extraction, resource harvesting in terms of animal harvesting," Wallbridge says.

Federal transfer payments to groups with settled land claims

For many groups who have settled land claims in the Northwest Territories, such as the Gwich'in, Tlicho and Sahtu, the Supreme Court's decision could mean bigger transfer payments from the federal government.

"The non-status Indians who are members and beneficiaries are not funded in the funding agreements by the federal government because the government says they don't have jurisdiction for them," says Métis lawyer Jean Teillet.

"They only fund status Indians in the fiscal transfers and that should change as well."

It's unknown how much more funding and which land claims agreement may be affected.

Health and dental benefits

Status First Nations people and Inuit are eligible for extended health benefits from the federal government such as prescription medication and dental care. In the Northwest Territories, the territorial government offers comparative benefits for Métis. Those costs could now be paid for by the federal government.

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