As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) landmark decision regarding Daniels v. Canada on April 14th, 2016, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) has repeatedly advocated for the Government of Canada to address the needs and interests of off-reserve Métis and Non-Status Indians (MNSI) in accordance with the SCC’s ruling that Métis and Non‑Status Indians are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1982. The ruling confirms Canada’s fiduciary responsibility to Métis and Non-Status Indigenous Peoples who are not affiliated with specific reserves.
In seeking guidance and direction on the Daniels decision, the federal government agreed to provide funding for CAP to develop and undertake a national symposium to enable meaningful dialogue between grassroots Indigenous Peoples, stakeholders, legal experts, and the Government of Canada on Daniels. The overall purpose of the Daniels Symposium was to bring together a representative cross section of CAP’s grassroots constituency for a two-day engagement on Daniels in regards to what the SCC’s decision means for the MNSI of Canada and specifically what the ‘next steps’ should be in regards to advocacy, policy and program development for CAP and the federal government.
This report summarizes the proceedings of the Daniels Symposium in addition to highlighting key concerns, priorities, and recommendations from CAP’s grassroots constituency regarding next steps with the federal government in relation to the Daniels decision.
The symposium took place on the unceded Traditional territory of the Algonquin in Ottawa on March 21st and 22nd, 2017, with the additional setup of four satellite locations across the country to enable grassroots members’ a national voice on Daniels. Individuals were able to participate virtually in the proceedings via locations in Corner Brook (Newfoundland), Montréal (Québec), Winnipeg (Saskatchewan), and Edmonton (Alberta).
A grouping of delegates (including one for Youth and one for Elders) from each of CAP’s Provincial and Territorial Organizations (PTOs) attended and participated in the symposium in Ottawa. In order to include diverse voices from across the nation and in addition to the four satellite locations, webcasting and live-streaming capabilities were put in place by the event organizers. This degree of nationwide participation ensured that CAP would be able to accommodate the request by the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC), that the proceedings included as great a number of CAP’s grassroots constituency as possible in order for INAC to gain a better understanding of the needs and interests of MNSI.
In being able to ensure that the cultural traditions of off-reserve Indigenous People were both respected and included, the symposium commenced with a ceremonial march that began at Parliament Hill, proceeded to the Supreme Court of Canada, and reached its final destination of the symposium’s venue at the Marriott Hotel whereupon a flag ceremony and youth drumming was undertaken. Throughout the two days, additional cultural performances took place including fiddling and Inuit throat singing.
The Daniels Symposium provided a forum for focused discussions on building a greater understanding of membership, programs/services, misconceptions and potential avenues to bring about positive changes. Accordingly, CAP set about to establish a symposium platform for progressive dialogue that would produce greater insights on grassroots needs and concerns, mobilize future legislation, and address strategies to improve the lives of its constituency.
To learn more about the Daniels Symposium, please access the final report: