For 17 years the courts and federal government were asking “Are Métis ‘Indians?’” This April the Supreme Court had an answer: Yes.
The court ruled that Métis and non-status Indians were ‘Indians’ under federal law.
This is important because if you are an ‘Indian’ under the federal law, the federal government is now clearly responsible for honouring agreements made with your people—not provincial governments. Previously, the government had refused to recognize that Métis and non-status were under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Most Métis agree that this is a good thing. From what I've read, some don’t completely agree.
Most Métis think it’s great that the federal government has a clear mandate and responsibility to honour commitments and settle land rights (and other issues) with Métis.
There are also concerns that existing federal statutes haven’t worked well for Canada's Aboriginal people as a whole—so why should this imperfect framework work well for Métis?
Just after the ruling was announced, the President of the Manitoba Métis Federation, David Chartrand, was quoted as saying: “It means the end of discrimination, it means the end of exclusion and it means the end of excuses and that’s the key thing for us.”
What’s status? A great overview of status and non-status can be found at âpihtawikosisân, titled Got Status?
CBC has an overview of the what the ruling means.
Indigenous Foundations has a great overview of the Indian Act.