Métis Rights



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Thomas Isaac
Contemporary Themes in Aboriginal Law Series
ISBN 978-0-88880-534-8
2008 76 pp. Softcover

The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal peoples whose rights are recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. However, since the coming into force of section 35, most case law and judicial and academic commentary has been focused on the rights of First Nations peoples. The rights of the Inuit, with a few exceptions, have been largely dealt with by means of modern treaties and land claims settlements in northern Canada. This leaves the Métis. Fewer than a handful of decisions have been rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada expressly considering the rights of the Métis. For the Métis, the central legal question facing them is “Who are the Métis for the purposes of section 35?”

It is with this question – “Who are the Métis?” – as a purely legal question, that Thomas Isaac begins his discussion and analysis of the rights of Métis people under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and reviews related case law. This monograph addresses such important topics as

  • Métis self-definition
  • the meaning of Métis for purposes of constitutionally recognized Aboriginal rights and the Powley test
  • the term “Indians” and whether the Métis are “Indians” for the purposes of section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867
  • the test for determining entitlements of the Métis to constitutionally recognized and affirmed Aboriginal rights, and the nature and extent of such rights
  • the challenges the Métis face in making successful claims of Aboriginal title
  • the application of the Crown’s duty to consult the Métis people
  • federal and provincial perspectives on Métis issues

Thomas Isaac is a partner with the law firm of McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Vancouver. He has published numerous books and many articles in the area and his published work has been cited with approval by numerous Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.