FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Launches New Campaign on the 6th Anniversary of the CAP-Daniels Decision
April 14, 2022 (OTTAWA) – Today, on the 6th anniversary of the CAP-Daniels Decision, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) is launching a campaign to urge the federal government to follow through and honour their legal responsibilities to all Indigenous people. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada gave its decision in Daniels v. Canada, declaring the federal government has a legal responsibility to Métis and Non-Status Indigenous people, as it does with all other Indigenous peoples. Six years later, little action has been taken.
“The final ruling was a moment of relief, justice, and promise of potential for Indigenous people across Canada who had been denied their inherent rights,” says Elmer St. Pierre, National Chief of CAP. “Yet, as I reflect on what has happened in the six years since the decision, I can’t help but feel discouraged by the inaction from the federal government.”
CAP expects the federal government to act on their three immediate priority areas: righting past wrongs, honouring traditions, and providing access to programs and services. This includes, first, recognizing the rights of Métis and Non-Status Indigenous people and developing a mechanism to oversee their implementation. Second, ensuring Métis and Non-Status Indigenous people are consulted on all matters that affect them and building this into legislation and policy. Third, opening up all existing programs and services to include Métis and Non-Status people and developing new ones targeted directly at Métis and Non-Status people.
“A decision of the Supreme Court of Canada cannot be ignored. For us, it’s not about politics, and it’s not about government and bureaucracy. We’re fighting for our lives, and the lives of Indigenous people across Canada,” says Chief St. Pierre. “CAP and our communities are coming together to find a united way forward. We welcome and ask the federal government to join us.”
The CAP-Daniels Decision was the result of a 17-year legal battle started by CAP’s former President Harry Daniels and Leah Gardiner, a Non-Status Anishinaabe woman from Ontario. In 2013, a Federal Court judge granted the first declaration that Métis and Non-Status Indigenous people are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The federal government appealed the Federal Court’s decision, resulting in the Federal Court of Appeal upholding only part of the original ruling. CAP then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. On April 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the original ruling.
Director of Communications
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the national voice representing the interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People living off-reserve. Today, over 80% of Indigenous people live off-reserve.