Statement by the Honourable Andy Scott, Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians
Sunday, September 19 2004
Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Andy Scott, today issued the following statement in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s R. v. Powley decision.
"One year ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Métis community in and around Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, have an Aboriginal right to harvest for food and allowed for the possibility that such rights might exist elsewhere in Canada. The decision in R. v. Powley was the first to recognize that Métis hold Aboriginal rights protected and affirmed under section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Supreme Court ruling marks a watershed moment for the recognition of Métis rights in Canada. Since the Court released its decision, the Government of Canada has worked with Métis leadership and the provinces to respond to the decision in a sound and responsible manner. Through these cooperative and collaborative efforts we have made much progress, and it is my hope that we will continue our efforts to build on these successes.
In April, 2004, the Government of Canada allocated $20.5 million to further facilitate a multifaceted response to this complex decision. Approximately half the funds are designated for Métis organizations to provide them with the capacity to participate in federal-provincial discussions on harvesting and means to identify Métis harvesters;
communicate with their memberships on those discussions; and, conduct research with a goal to making their membership lists more objectively verifiable, especially with regards to the identification of Métis harvesters. The other half of the funds are for federal use to support this process and to conduct historical and sociological research.
Consistent methods for the identification of Métis harvesters across the nation is a priority. Now engaged in a discussion process with provincial governments and Métis leaders to determine a response, the Government of Canada is committed to implement the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in good faith, while at the same time facilitating responsible hunting and helping ensure public safety.
For further information please contact:
Office of the Minister
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
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