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2013-01-09 at NOON

Metis Nation councillor calls court ruling a pleasant surprise

By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com
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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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We've improved our comment system.
ranma says:
It is great news, but my biggest concern, is will all of us Metis get the tax free status that other First Nations people have. If this happens, it will be detrimental to the economy. Yes, as a Metis I would love to have tax exempt status, but I honestly do not believe our country would be able to handle it financially.
1/9/2013 4:01:58 PM
michyj32 says:
Well unless you plan on living on the reserve the only "tax free" you will get is 7% sales tax on purchases. You still have to pay income tax, federal tax, any utilities are still taxed like hydro, telephone, cable..so basically you will be paying taxes like the rest of us first nations people..and you will now pay 20 cents less on gas on the reserve nowhere else..congrats on your new status ..sorry it's not as great as you and every other person in this country thinks...
1/10/2013 1:46:33 AM
brooky says:
My wife is status. Between the 2 vehicles that we run, we save a small fortune on gas. And yes. Everything else is on sale for 7% off. I like it.
1/10/2013 9:24:10 PM
Blue says:
Two thumbs up Ranma for having a consience. Thanks for looking at the bigger picture.
1/9/2013 5:32:44 PM
TIC says:
This is going to cost a lot of money for all Canadians who pay taxes and my question is what is the required percentage of native does a person have to be to cash in on these benefits? I personally feel this is not a good idea.
1/9/2013 6:51:32 PM
damanisback says:
1/9/2013 7:52:32 PM
metisman says:
As "michy" states this is only applies if you live and work on a reserve. Given the fact that Metis were free from reserves and that the tax exemption that applies to those living and working on reserves, means our people will in no way, shape or form get this exemption.

For damanisback...this decision is more about recognition and a lot less about money...remember..our culture for 200 years was hidden from the mainstream due to bounty put on the Metis in the Riel era and only in recent times has it again began to flourish.

As far as TLC's comment...there is no blood quantum or 'native' precentage for Metis. You are either Metis or you are not. Saying that, even if you have heritage that is half 1st nation and half French, you still need to prove a connection to a Historic Metis Community ( ie Thunder Bay, Nipigon House, etc).
1/10/2013 4:25:36 PM
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