I had met with Métis leaders in my days as Governor General. They told me all about their hopes that one day, they would see their rights stand tall and recognized before history. I immediately sympathized and was happy to share some of the path they walked on that long journey.
On my last trip home to Canada, I was profoundly moved by breaking news of the Daniels v. Canada decision, as I felt its deep historical resonance, tremendous significance and great potential. So I wanted to congratulate the men and women behind this landmark decision.
Ottawa, April 23, 2016
To all aboriginal leaders, interveners, lawyers and partners involved in the Daniels v. Canada decision rendered April 14, 2016, by the Supreme Court of Canada
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Dwight Dorey, national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Clement Chartier, president of the Métis National Council
David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation
Bruce Dumont, president of the BC Metis Nation
Audrey Poitras, president of the Alberta Metis Nation
Robert Doucette, president, Métis Nation - Saskatchewan
Gerald Morin, vice president, Métis Nation - Saskatchewan
Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Metis Community
Gail Gallupe, president of the McMurray Métis
Native Council of Nova Scotia
New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples Council
Native Council of Prince Edward Island
Metis Settlements General Council
Te’mexw Treaty Association
Métis Federation of Canada
Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada
Chiefs of Ontario
Gift Lake Métis Settlement
Native Alliance of Quebec
Assembly of First Nations
Joseph Magnet, University of Ottawa law professor
Andrew Lokan, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein, Toronto
Lindsay Scott, Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein, Toronto
Jason Madden, lawyer for Metis National Council
JFK Law Corporation, Vancouver and Victoria
Devlin Gailus Westaway, Victoria
Nahwegahbow, Corbiere Genoodmagejig, Rama, Ontario
Gowling WLG (Canada) Inc., Ottawa
Gagné Letarte, Québec
Letter of Congratulation
It is with sincere emotion that I wish to extend my warmest greetings and enthusiastic words of congratulation for your contribution in the unanimous Daniels v. Canada, Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Métis and Non-Status Indians, rendered April 14, 2016. May this historical day live forever in our collective memory.
Wholeheartedly, I join the hundreds of thousands of men and women who, generation after generation, never ceased to pursue this ideal and to wage that struggle, with the greatest of perseverance, for the fair recognition of their rights. I also want to salute citizens of goodwill who, by the millions across the country, showed their solidarity.
We have every reason to rejoice in this groundbreaking decision that clarifies constitutional responsibility for the Métis and ” non-status Indians” under the Constitution Act of 1867. Through the opening created by this appeal, I see new policies blooming for scores of communities across Canada, policies that I hope will bring new resources and opportunities in education, social and health services, sustainable human and economic development.
I couldn’t agree more with Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella when she finds that “Cultural and ethnic labels do not lend themselves to neat boundaries”, and that “another chapter in the pursuit of reconciliation and redress” is now being written in the long history between Canada and its Indigenous Peoples.
This moment is the worthy result of 17 years of dedicated work on the Court case, but also the culmination of a very long struggle. The landmark ruling validates and bolsters the spirit of dialogue and encounter that so many of us have espoused and nurtured over the years.
The ruling in Daniels v. Canada constitutes a unique opportunity for all Métis people, for the women, men and children of” non-status Indians”—indeed all Canadians—to refound our relationship and promote better coexistence, to move the country forward on the path to a new social pact, a collective project genuinely based on section 35 of the Constitution on Aboriginal rights, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Allow me to join in the moving vision that Gabriel Daniels shared of his father on the day the decision was rendered. With him, the ancestors’ spirits and all of you across the land, let our hearts enter for a moment the jig of delight for work well done, while we recommit to the task ahead of us.
I trust that you will share my message with other Métis, Non-Status and Aboriginal leaders of Canada I may have failed to include in this message.
Together, let us continue to help our Confederation live up to its best aspirations, based on a true partnership between us, aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples.
In sincere solidarity, with great admiration,
HE Madame Michaëlle Jean
Secretary General of La Francophonie
27th Governor General of Canada (2005-2010)