In 1982, after generations of fighting for justice, the existing Aboriginal andTreaty rights of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples received constitutional protection. Section 35 of the
Constitution Act, 1982 provides:
35 (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are
hereby recognized and affirmed.
(2) In this Act,“aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis
peoples of Canada.
This constitutional protection was a victory for allAboriginal peoples in Canada.For the Métis Nation, the explicit inclusion of the Métis in s.35 was viewed as a new beginning after over 100 years of denial, avoidance and neglect by governments in Canada. Even within the Parliament of Canada, section 35 was described as a“political watershed”and a“turning point for the status of native peoples”in Canada.
Unfortunately,since 1982, s.35 has remained largely an unfulfilled promise to the Métis Nation, with governments in Canada taking the position that the Métis had no existing Aboriginal rights protected by s. 35; thereby, refusing to negotiate or deal with the Métis people and their rights.In response to these steadfast federal and provincial government positions,beginning in the early 1990s,the Métis Nation began its‘hunt for justice’by defending its citizens and their rights in the courts,in order to breathe life into the constitutional commitment made to the Métis in 1982.
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