"Indian" ruling appealed
On February 6, 2012 the Canadian government has announced that they will appeal the earlier ruling that Metis and not status Indians are “Indians” under the Canada Constitution Act.
"Given that the Federal Court decision raises complex legal issues, it is prudent for Canada to obtain a decision from a higher court," Duncan said. "After careful consideration of the decision, Canada has filed an appeal, and it would be inappropriate to comment further as the case is before the courts."
The main reason sited was that Canada cannot financially sustain the cost of a greatly expanded “Indian” population. But everyone in Canada, including the Metis and non status “Indians” are well aware of this fundamental fact and expected the government to react against this ruling. The Federal government surely know that the “Indian” Act is untenable, subjugating and Archaic—but prefer the status quo, unwilling to stir up the Indian rights pot. The Indian Act has always, since it’s implementation in 1876, prevented the adjustment of Aboriginal people in Canadian Society. Though, depending on your view, it was intended to assimilate the indigenous population. It presently controls Indian rights but if the recent ruling is upheld it will lead to a final settlement of Aboriginal claims in Canada.
Given that it has taken 12 years to reach this ruling, begun in 1999 by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, a new decision will certainly be no easier to conclude. The higher court will wrestle with the same issues, the same inability to avoid past discrimination. The buck will stop at this point or, as past governments have done, postpone aboriginal rights issues for many more generations. The result is that the full rights of Canadian Aboriginal descendants are denied, and the Indian Act will continue it’s denigrating affect on reservation Canadians, even though there is an appearance of conciliation and progress.
If the higher courts are independent of Canadian politics, or if they are truly impartial and free of political coercion, maybe it will uphold the decision of it’s lower counterpart. With so much at stake it will be very difficult for Ottawa lawmakers not to influence the overturning of the lower court ruling.
If this is the case the Canadian government will miss the opportunity to win the support of all the Quebec Aboriginal people against the Québécois. An agreement with the Québécois and “Indians” of Quebec might well tip the scale in a separation referendum. In addition, “Indian” civil unrest will accelerate throughout the country, as Canadian “Indians” unite.
If the lower court ruling is upheld in the supreme court the process of negotiating new legislation encompassing all Aboriginal descendants in Canada will begin immediately . This process will no doubt, require many years of negotiation.
The Indian Act will ultimately be replaced with a new Act that will truly reflect Pierre Trudeau’s “ Just Society”. Meanwhile, and despite an overturning of the lower court ruling, we must maintain our stance that we are indeed “Indians” respecting the culture of our ancestors.
Update: Today Thursday April, 17 2014, The appeals court upheld the original ruling without further defining Metis identity. The Federal government must now negotiate or go to the Supreme Court of Canada.