Ottawa

Ottawa Métis ecstatic following Supreme Court ruling

People in Ottawa's Métis community are thrilled and hopeful following the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling that Métis and non-status Indians are now the responsibility of the federal government.

'It's going to bring so much pride to our people'

France Picotte, chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario, in the lobby of the Supreme Court of Canada following the unanimous ruling. (Giacomo Panico/CBC News)

People in Ottawa's Métis community say they're thrilled and hopeful following the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling that Métis and non-status Indians are now the responsibility of the federal government as "Indians" under the Indian Act.

"Today is a day of excitement and celebration, and a way of moving forward," said Duane Morrisseau-Beck, who's originally from Manitoba but has lived in Ottawa since 1999.

"I think it's finally a path that our nation can start moving forward on in terms of our recognition, and access to the programs and services, he said. "And to being in those important discussions — nation to nation discussions — regarding Métis issues and Métis rights."

Ruling ends 17-year court battle

After a 17-year court battle launched by Métis leader and activist Harry Daniels, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its ruling Thursday saying that approximately 600,000 Métis and non-status Indians in fact fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and are considered "Indians" under the Act, meaning the government has the same responsibility to them as it does to status Indians and Inuit.
Gabriel Daniels, son of Harry Daniels, speaks with reporters in the lobby of the Supreme Court of Canada. (Giacomo Panico/CBC News)

"It's a great day. It's a great slam-dunk win. It's awesome," said France Picotte, chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario. "It's going to bring so much pride to our people — officially recognized that they are an indigenous people with equal rights to the two other indigenous peoples in Canada."

The unanimous ruling may serve now as a starting point for those pursuing land claims and additional government services, like health care and education.

'Our children will grow up knowing who they are'

"What's gonna change overnight? Not much, except for the pride, and that's a big one," said Picotte.

"Most of my life, they have been fighting for this," said Kelly Duquette, a Métis University of Ottawa student. "It's just good to know that we're recognized on this level, and that we get to just exercise our rights properly, finally after all these years."

Duquette says the ruling comes at an important time for Mé​tis identity and culture.

"Right now, the youth are paving the way. A lot of us are just coming out and understanding who we are, and really expressing our culture. And I just think this came at a really good time, because now our children will grow up knowing who they are, and being able to exercise their rights. It's just a whole new generation of Métis."

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