Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

“Just Do It!”: Carving Out a Space for the Métis in Canadian Federalism

  • Janique Dubois (a1) and Kelly Saunders (a2)

Abstract

Abstract. Disagreement over how and between whom power should be shared has led to competing conceptions of federalism in Canada. The model of federalism adopted in the Constitution Act 1867 divides power between the provinces and the federal government to the exclusion of Aboriginal peoples. However, pre-Confederation documents such as the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the early treaties suggest that federalism is founded on the coexistence of self-governing nations. This paper presents a case study of how one Aboriginal people, the Métis, are reviving the pre-Confederation vision of federalism founded on mutual recognition by carving out a space for themselves in Canada's political and institutional landscape. We argue that by delivering an expanded array of programs and services to their citizens, creating innovative governance structures, adopting legislation in key areas of Métis interest and fostering economic self-sufficiency, the Métis are reshaping federalism from the bottom up.

Résumé. Deux visions antagoniques du fédéralisme canadien existent en raison de conceptions divergentes de la séparation des pouvoirs. Le modèle de fédéralisme adopté par la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867 divise les pouvoirs entre les provinces et le gouvernement fédéral, en dépit des peuples autochtones. Or, la Proclamation royale de 1763 et les premiers traités proposent une vision du fédéralisme fondée sur la coexistence de nations autonomes. Cet article présente une étude de cas qui démontre comment un peuple autochtone, les Métis, fait renaitre la vision originale du fédéralisme fondée sur la reconnaissance mutuelle en se taillant une place au sein du paysage politique et institutionnel canadien. Les Métis prennent une approche ascendante pour façonner le fédéralisme canadien à cette image par le biais du développement de programmes et services, la création de structures de gouvernance innovatrices, l'adoption de politiques dans des domaines clés et la poursuite de l'autosuffisance économique.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Janique Dubois, Brock University, Political Science, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, jdubois@brocku.ca.
Kelly Saunders, Brandon University, Political Science, 270-18th Street, Brandon, MB R7A 6A9, saundersk@brandonu.ca.

References

Hide All
AANDC, Aboriginal Affairs and Canada, Northern Development. 2009. “Minister Strahl, Provincial Ministers and Métis Leaders Meet to Discuss Métis Economic Development.” http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/aiarch/mr/nr/s-d2009/23303-eng.asp (September 22, 2011).
Abele, Frances and Prince, Michael. 2003. “Aboriginal Governance and Canadian Federalism: A To-Do List for Canada.” In New Trends in Canadian Federalism, ed. Rocher, François and Smith, Miriam. 2nd ed. Peterborough: Broadview Press.
Abele, Frances and Prince, Michael. 2007. “Constructing Political Spaces for Aboriginal Communities in Canada.” In Constructing Tomorrow's Federalism: New Perspectives on Canadian Governance, ed. Peach, Ian. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Alberta, Government of. n.d. “First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Partnership Council.”http://education.alberta.ca/teachers/fnmi/partnershipcouncil.aspx (May 30, 2011).
Alfred, Taiaiaike. 1999. Peace, Power and Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
AMDI, Apeetogosan (Métis) Development Inc. n.d.http://www.apeetogosan.com/AboutUs.aspx (May 29, 2011).
AMNSIS, Association of Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan. 1978. “Hamilton Elected Area Director for Western Region 2.” New Breed (October): 1820.
Andersen, Chris. 2008. “From Nation to Population: The Racialisation of ‘Métis’ in the Canadian Census.” Nations and Nationalism 14 (2): 347–68.
Andersen, Chris. 2011. “‘I'm Métis, What's your excuse?’ On the optics and the Ethics of the Misrecognition of Métis in Canada.” Aboriginal Policy Studies 1 (2): 161–65.
Asch, Michael, ed. 2002. Aboriginal Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Bakvis, Herman, Baier, Gerald and Brown, Douglas. 2009. Contested Federalism: Certainty and Ambiguity in the Canadian Federation. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.
Belanger, Yale, ed. 2008. Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Current Trends and Issues. 3rd ed. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Belanger, Yale. 2010. Ways of Knowing: An Introduction to Native Studies in Canada. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd.
Bell, Catherine. 2003. “Towards an Understanding of Métis Aboriginal Rights: Reflections on the Reasoning in R. v. Powley.” In Aboriginal Rights Litigation, ed. Magnet, Joseph and Dorey, Dwight. Markham: LexisNexis Canada.
Bell, Catherine. 2008. “Beyond Space and Time: A Purposive Examination of Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Bolt, Menno and Long, Anthony. 1985. The Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Rights. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Borrows, John. 1997. “Wampum at Niagara: The Royal Proclamation, Canadian Legal History, and Self-Government.” In Aboriginal Treaty Rights in Canada: Essays on Law, Equality, and Respect for Difference, ed. Asch, Michael. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Borrows, John. 1998. “Frozen Rights in Canada: Constitutional Interpretation and the Trickster.” American Indian Law Review 22 (1): 3764.
Borrows, John. 2002. Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Bostrom, Harvey, Rogan, Alison and Asselin, Richard. 2008. “The Aboriginal Justice Inquiry–Child Welfare Initiative: Creating the Métis Child and Family Services Authority.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Brooks, Stephen. 2009. Canadian Democracy. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.
CCD, Clarence Campeau Development Fund. 2010. Annual Report. http://www.clarencecampeau.com/ccdf/ (May 28, 2011).
Chartier, Clément. 1994. “Métis Perspective.” In Continuing Poundmaker and Riel's Quest: Presentations Made at a Conference on Aboriginal Peoples and Justice, ed. Gosse, Richard, Henderson, James Youngblood and Carter, Roger. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Chartier, Clément. 1999. “Aboriginal Self-Government and the Métis Nation.” In Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, ed. Hylton, John. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Chartier, Clément. 2010. President, Métis National Council. Personal interview, September.
Chartier, Clément. 2011. President, Métis National Council. Personal interview, March.
Chartrand, David. 2009. President, Manitoba Métis Federation. Personal interview, October.
Chartrand, David. 2011. President, Manitoba Métis Federation. Personal interview, September.
Chartrand, Larry. 2004. “Métis Aboriginal Title in Canada.” In Advancing Aboriginal Claims: Visions, Strategies, Directions, ed. Wilkins, Kerry. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Chartrand, Larry. 2008. “‘We Rise Again’: Métis Traditional Governance and the Claim to Métis Self-Government.” In Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Current Trends and Issues, ed. Belanger, Yale. 3rd ed. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Chartrand, Paul. 2002. Who Are Canada's Aboriginal Peoples? Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Chartrand, Paul. 2008. “Defining the ‘Métis’ of Canada: A Principled Approach to Crown–Aboriginal Relations.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Denstedt, Shawn and Jamieson, JoAnn. 2009. “Canada: Manitoba Hunting Case Sheds Light on Métis Rights.” In Mondaq News Alerts, January 15.
Dubois, Janique. 2013. “From Service Providers to Decision Makers: Building a Métis Government in Saskatchewan.” In Métis in Canada: History, Identity, Law and Politics, ed. Adams, Christopher, Dahl, Gregg and Peach, Ian. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press.
FCC, Federal Court of Canada, Daniels v. Canada [2013] F.C.R. 6.
Friesen, John and Friesen, Virginia Lyons. 2004. We are Included! The Métis People of Canada Realize Riel's Vision. Calgary: Detesting Enterprises.
GDI, Gabriel Dumont Institute. n.d. “Programs.”http://www.gdins.org/programs (May 29, 2011).
GDTI, Gabriel Dumont Technical Institute. n.d. “About Dumont Technical Institute.”http://www.gdins.org/AboutDTI (August 29, 2011).
Goodon, Will. 2011. Special Advisor to MMF President David Chartrand. Personal interview, August.
Goodon, Will. 2010. Special Advisor to MMF President David Chartrand. Personal interview, August.
Groves, Robert and Morse, Bradford. 2004. “Constituting Aboriginal Collectivities: Avoiding New Peoples ‘In Between.’Saskatchewan Law Review 67 (1): 255–99.
Hamilton, Murray. 2011. Former Vice-President of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. Personal interview, January.
Isaac, Thomas. 2004. Aboriginal Case Law: Commentary, Cases and Materials. 3rd ed. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Ladner, Kiera. 2003. “Treaty Federalism: An Indigenous Vision of Canadian Federalism.” In New Trends in Canadian Federalism, ed. Rocher, François and Smith, Miriam. 2nd ed. Toronto: Broadview Press.
LeClair, Marc and Weinstein, John. 2010. “The Métis National Council: 27 Years in Pursuit of Self-Determination for the Métis Nation.” Presentation at the Annual General Assembly of the Métis National Council, Saskatoon, December 12.
Lischke, Ute and McNab, David. 2007. The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities and Family Histories. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
LRI, Louis Riel Institute. n.d.http://dev-louisrielinstitute.com/ (August 29, 2011).
Maaka, Roger and Fleras, Augie. 2005. The Politics of Indigeneity: Challenging the State in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.
Macdonald, Fiona. 2011. “Indigenous Peoples and Neoliberal ‘Privatization’ in Canada: Opportunities, Cautions and Constraints.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 44 (2): 257–73.
Macklem, Patrick. 2001. Indigenous Difference and the Constitution of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Macklem, Patrick. 2008. “Indigenous Recognition in International Law: Theoretical Observations.” Michigan Journal of International Law 30 (1): 177210.
Madden, Jason. 2008. “The Métis Nation's Self-Government Agenda: Issues and Options for the Future.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Madden, Jason, Graham, John and Wilson, Jake. 2005. “Exploring Options for Métis Governance in the 21st Century.” Ottawa: Institute on Governance. http://iog.ca/en/publications/exploring-options-m%C3%A9tis-governance-21st-century (May 29, 2011).
Magnet, Joseph E. 2003. “Who Are the Aboriginal People of Canada?” In Aboriginal Rights Litigation, ed. Magnet, Joseph and Dorey, Dwight. Markham: LexisNexis Canada.
MECP, Métis Electoral Consultation Panel. 2005. “Métis Governance in Saskatchewan for the 21st Century: Views and Visions of the Métis People.” Report submitted to the Saskatchewan Minister of First Nations and Métis Relations. http://publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=56467 (July 16, 2013).
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. n.d. “Métis Child and Family Services.”http://www.mmf.mb.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=93&Itemid=98 (August 29, 2011).
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. 2002a. The Report of the Commission on the Métis Laws of the Hunt. Winnipeg: MMF, March 23.
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. 2002b. “Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Negotiations to Develop a Proposed Métis Co-Management Framework Agreement (Draft).” Winnipeg: MMF, March 23.
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. 2007a. Interim Laws of the Harvest. 2nd ed. Winnipeg: MMF, March 27.
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. 2007b. “MMF Métis Harvesting Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions.” http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=10180 (February 4, 2011).
MMF, Manitoba Métis Federation. 2011. Métis Laws of the Harvest. 3rd ed. Winnipeg: MMF, August 31.
MNC, Métis National Council. 2002. “Snapshot of the Nation: Executive Summary.” Document in authors' possession.
MNC, Métis National Council. 2003. “Towards a Métis Nation Constitution.” Document in authors' possession.
MNC, Métis National Council. 2008. “Metis Nation Protocol.” Document in authors' possession.
MNC, Métis National Council. 2011a. “Prime Minister continues dialogue with Métis Nation.” www.metisnation.ca/press/11-feb16 (March 3, 2011).
MNC, Métis National Council. 2011b. “Métis Nation Welcomes Reappointment of Minister John Duncan.” www.metisnation.ca/index.php/news/metis-nation-welcomes-reappointment-of-minister (September 18, 2011).
MNC, Métis National Council. 2011c. “First Nations, Inuit, and Métis National Leaders Call on All Jurisdictions to Work Towards a First Minister's Meeting on Key Priorities.” www.metisnation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/2011720-en-cof-joint.pdf (September 15, 2011).
MNC, Métis National Council. 2011d. “The Métis.” http://www.metisnation.ca/index.php/media-gallery/publications (April 27, 2012).
MNC, Métis National Council. 2011e. “A Blueprint for Métis Nation Governance Reform.” Document in authors' possession.
MNC, Métis National Council. 2012. “Towards a Métis Economic Development Strategy.” Métis Nation Economic Development Summit. Grande Prairie, Alberta. March. www.metisnation.ca//metisportals.ca/ecodev/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Opening_Address_by_MNC_President-.pdf (June 10, 2012).
MNC, Métis National Council. 2013. “Métis Constitution.” http://www.metisnation.ca/index.php/who-are-the-metis/metis-constitution (April 20, 2013).
MNO, Métis Nation Ontario. n.d. “Métis Culture Based Economic Development Grant.”http://www.metisnation.org/programs/education--training/employment-and-training/et-programs/metis-culture-based-economic-development-grant-(mced) (April 20, 2013).
MN-S, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. 1993. “Constitution of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan.” Saskatchewan: MN-S. http://www.mn-s.ca/uploads/1/5/1/4/15144322/_constitution-amended-september-9-2008.pdf (April 20, 2013).
Morse, Bradford A. 2008. “Are the Métis in Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867? An Issue Caught in a Time-Warp.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Morse, Bradford and Giokas, John. 1995. “Do the Métis Fall within Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867?” In Aboriginal Self-Government: Legal and Constitutional Issues. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.
Morton, W. L. 1967. Manitoba: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Murphy, Michael. 2001. “Culture and the Courts: A New Direction in Canadian Jurisprudence on Aboriginal Rights?Canadian Journal of Political Science 34 (1): 109–29.
Newman, Dwight. 2009. The Duty to Consult: New Relationships with Aboriginal Peoples. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Ontario, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. 2009. “Communiqué.” www.news.ontario.ca/man/en/2009/10/cross-canada-cooperation-on-aboriginal-aff (September 15, 2011).
Ontario, Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. 2011. “Meeting of the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group Ottawa—April 19, 2011.” www.aboriginalaffairs.gov.on.ca/english-events/aawg.asp (September 14, 2011).
Palmater, Pamela. 2003. “In My Brother's Footsteps? Is R. v. Powley the Path to Recognized Aboriginal Identity for Non-Status Indians?” In Aboriginal Rights Litigation, ed. Magnet, Joseph and Dorey, Dwight. Markham: LexisNexis Canada.
Papillon, Martin. 2008. “Canadian Federalism and the Emerging Mosaic of Aboriginal Multilevel Governance.” In Canadian Federalism: Performance, Effectiveness and Legitimacy, ed. Bakvis, Herman and Skogstad, Grace. 2nd ed. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.
PCM, Provincial Court of Manitoba. [2008]. MBPC 59.
Peterson, Jacqueline. 1981. “The People In-Between: Indian-White Marriage and the Genesis of a Métis Society and Culture in the Great Lakes Region, 1680–1830,” Doctoral Dissertation, Chicago: University of Illinois.
Pratt, Alan. 1995. “Federalism in the Era of Aboriginal Self-Government.” In Aboriginal Peoples and Government Responsibility: Exploring Federal and Provincial Roles, ed. Hawkes, David. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.
Ray, Arthur, Miller, Jim and Tough, Frank. 2000. Bounty and Benevolence: A History of Saskatchewan Treaties. Regina: McGill-Queen's University Press.
RCAP, Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. 1996. Final Report. Ottawa: Supply and Services Canada.
Sanders, Joe. 1991. “First Nations Sovereignty and Self-Determination.” In Aboriginal Self-Determination, ed. Cassidy, Frank. Halifax: Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Saskatchewan, Government of. 2002. The Métis Act. http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=628 (May 28, 2011).
Saunders, Kelly L. 2011. “The Hunt for Justice: Métis Harvesting Rights and the Pursuit of Self-Government.” Canadian Journal of Native Studies 31 (1): 161–85.
Saunders, Kelly L. 2013. “No Other Weapon: Métis Political Organization and Governance in Canada.” In Métis in Canada: History, Identity, Law and Politics, ed. Adams, Christopher, Dahl, Gregg and Peach, Ian. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press.
Sawchuk, Joe. 1978. The Métis of Manitoba: Reformulation of an Ethnic Identity. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates.
Sawchuk, Joe. 1998. The Dynamics of Native Politics: The Alberta Métis Experience. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing Ltd.
Sawchuk, Joe. 2001. “Negotiating an Identity: Métis Political Organizations, the Canadian Government and Competing Concepts of Aboriginality.” The American Indian Quarterly 25 (1): 7392.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. Quebec Secession Reference, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. R. v. Powley, [2003a], 2 S.C.R. 207.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. R. v. Blais, [2003b] 2 S.C.R. 236, 2003 SCC 44.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), [2004a], 3 S.C.R. 511.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia (Project Assessment Director), [2004b], 3 S.C.R. 500.
SCC, Supreme Court of Canada. Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), [2013] SCC 14.
Sealey, Bruce and Lussier, Antoine. 1975. The Métis: Canada's Forgotten People. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications.
Slowey, Gabrielle A. 2007. “Federalism and First Nations: In Search of Space.” In Constructing Tomorrow's Federalism: New Perspectives on Canadian Governance, ed. Peach, Ian. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
Slowey, Gabrielle A. 2008. Navigating Neoliberalism: Self-Determination and the Mikisew Cree First Nation. Vancouver: UBC Press.
Sprague, Donald N. and Frye, R. P.. 1983. The Genealogy of the First Métis Nation: The Development and Dispersal of the Red River Settlement 1820–1900. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications.
Stanley, George. 1936. The Birth of Western Canada: A History of the Riel Rebellions. London: Longmans, Green.
Stevenson, M. 2002. “Section 91(24) and Canada's Legislative Jurisdiction with Respect to the Métis.” Indigenous Law Journal 1 (1): 237–62.
Teillet, Jean. 2007. “The Winds of Change: Métis Rights after Powley, Taku and Haida.” In The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities and Family Histories, ed. Lischke, Ute and McNab, David T.. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press.
Teillet, Jean. 2008. “Federal and Provincial Crown Obligations to the Métis.” In Métis-Crown Relations: Rights, Identity, Jurisdiction, and Governance, ed. Wilson, Frederica and Mallet, Melanie. Toronto: Irwin Law.
Teillet, Jean. 2012. “Métis Law in Canada.” http://www.pstlaw.ca/resources/MLIC-2012.pdf (April 20, 2013).
Tully, James. 2000. “A Just Relationship between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.” In Aboriginal Rights and Self-Government, ed. Cook, Curtis and Lindau, Juan D.. Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press.
United Nations. 2007. “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” General Assembly Resolution 61/295. http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html (May 29, 2011).
Watts, Ronald. 1988. Executive Federalism: A Comparative Analysis. Kingston: Institute on Intergovernmental Relations.
Weinstein, John. 1986. “Aboriginal Self-Determination off a Land Base.” Background Group Paper no. 8. Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queens University. www.queensu.ca/iigr/archive/aboriginalpapers/background/html (September 18, 2011).
Weinstein, John. 2007. Quiet Revolution West: The Rebirth of Métis Nationalism. Calgary: Fifth House.
Weinstein, John. 2010. Advisor to President Clément Chartier, Métis National Council. Personal interview, December.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed