Cameron Burgess says he’s pleased by a court ruling that states Metis and non-status Indians are "Indians" under a section of the Constitution Act, and falls under federal jurisdiction.
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After 13 years, Cameron Burgess says the federal government is finally recognizing the Metis people.
Burgess, the region councillor for the Thunder Bay and District Metis Nation of Ontario, said he was pleased to hear the news that a federal court made a ruling regarding rights for Aboriginal people. The ruling handed down on Tuesday states Metis and non-status Indians are "Indians" under a section of the Constitution Act, and falls under federal jurisdiction.
Burgess said it was frustrating that the decision had to go through the courts instead of simply negotiating.
He said the federal government never recognized metis but the court ruling changes all of that.
“I can speak for more than 2,600 metis citizens and it is going to affect all of us whether it is going to be child welfare, health, education, and land claims,” he said.
“It was a pleasant surprise when I heard (the news). Our identity won’t change. My grandfather was Scottish and I’ll always be a proud Metis. I get to celebrate both heritages through our culture.”
The court’s decision clarifies the relationship between the federal government and the more than 600,000 Aboriginal people who are not affiliated with specific First Nation communities.
In 2008, the metis nation signed a framework agreement with the Ontario government.
Burgess said things have worked out well with the province and preferred working with them compared to the federal government.
He said he hopes to move forward even more but remained worried that the federal government may appeal the decision and delay any progress.
“If there is an appeal then it’s going to be dragged out in the courts again,” he said. “Who knows what the time limits are going to be.”
With files from the Canadian Press
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