Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General)

Supreme Court of Canada – 2013 SCC 14

Manitoba Fiduciary dutyHonour of the CrownMétis

Summary

This decision determined whether the Crown had breached its obligations towards the Métis in its implementation of the Manitoba Act. The Court recognizes that there can be a breach of the honour of the Crown because of accumulated faults, and rejects a defense based on the passing of time.

 A constitutional and solemn obligation of the Crown with the objective to reconcile its sovereignty with aboriginal interests gives rises to the honour of the Crown. However, since the Manitoba Act does not grant discretionary power to the Crown on aboriginal interests, there is no fiduciary duty.

Issue

  1. Is Canada in breach of its fiduciary duty to the Métis?
  2. Did Canada fail to comply with the honour of the Crown in the implementation of ss. 31 and 32 of the Manitoba Act?
  3. Is the claim for a declaration barred by limitations or by the doctrine of laches?


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Alberta (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development) v. Cunningham

Supreme Court of Canada – [2011] 2 S.C.R. 670

Alberta Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsGovernance (self-determination, self-government)IdentityMétis

Summary

The Court determined that Métis could be refused rights guaranteed by the Metis Settlement Act upon registering as status Indians.

 This treatment could be considered a violation to the right to equality guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as it creates a distinction between Métis with Indian status and those without, but it comes from an ameliorative program with the goal of enriching the culture, identity and autonomy of the Métis.

Issue

Do the Métis Settlements Act violate the Charter? If yes, is this violation a reasonable limit imposed by a rule of law that is justified in a free and democratic society?


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R. v. Powley

Supreme Court of Canada – [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207

Ontario Aboriginal rightsMétis

Summary

Powley is a leading case in asserting Métis’ rights. It established a test to determine whether a community can be considered as “Métis” under the Constitution, and whether an individual can be considered as a member of this community.

It was delivered on the same day as Blais.

Issue

Does Ontario’s Game and Fish Act contravene the Métis’ Aboriginal right protected under section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982?


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R. v. Blais

Supreme Court of Canada – [2003] 2 S.C.R. 236

Manitoba Aboriginal rightsMétis

Summary

Delivered the same day as Powley. The Supreme Court refuses to conclude that the Manitoba Natural Resources Transfer Agreement applies to Métis, but notes that they could use section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to have their aboriginal rights recognized.

Issue

Can Métis be considered as “Indians” under the Manitoba Natural Resources Transfer Agreement?


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