Canada Must Do More: A Lawyer’s Plea for Métis Rights

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Edmonton, AB – April 08, 2015

Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras, is pleased with recommendations set forth in a recent report prepared by Vancouver-based lawyer Doug Eyford on the renewal of Canada’s comprehensive land claim policy.

The recommendations set forth in Mr. Eyford’s report “A New Direction- Advancing Aboriginal and Treaty Rights”, seeks to enhance Canada’s existing policy for negotiations on Aboriginal rights and land claims. The report is the product of over 100 meetings with Aboriginal groups throughout the Canada.

Appointed by the Honourable Maurice Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Mr. Eyford reports that “Canada must do more” to preserve Metis rights and includes two Métis-specific recommendations:

  • Canada should develop a reconciliation process to support the exercise of Métis section 35(1) rights and to reconcile their interests.
  • Canada should establish a framework for negotiations with the Manitoba Métis Federation to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Manitoba Métis Federation v. Canada, 2013 SCC 14.

President Poitras notes that Mr. Eyford’s report is as “a significant stride forward for Métis rights recognition in Canada and provides a clear policy directive for the Government of Canada to reconcile outstanding Metis land-claims and Rights under Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada, 1982”.

Eyford writes that more than three decades have evidenced shortcomings of the 1982 Constitution Act and that:

“ … the Metis regard Canada as having failed to accept their status as an Aboriginal group with constitutionally protected rights. The 1986 Policy, like its’ predecessors, is silent on Metis rights, and the Interim Policy does not specifically address their interests either…Canada must do more in its relationship with the Metis to ensure their section 35 rights are appropriately recognized and can be meaningfully exercised”

President Poitras is optimistic that Mr. Eyford’s report will inform a renewed policy going forward and is hopeful that, “the Minister Valcourt will commit to implementing the recommendations set forth in Mr. Eyford’s report ”and begin to work collaboratively on these important issues in Alberta”.

A copy of the report is available at http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=958299&tp=1