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January 9, 2013

New Court Ruling for Metis in Canada Shows Importance of Genealogy

A landmark victory for non-reserve aboriginals in Canada has just taken place.

The Federal Court has ruled Métis and non-status Indians are indeed “Indians”  FN under a section of the Constitution Act, and fall under federal jurisdiction.

This is important because in Canada status Indians receive many benefits including free health care (dental and medical), education benefits, no tax on purchased goods and no income tax. Metis and non-status Indians do not receive these benefits.

Metis and non-status Indians have been fighting the government for years for access to the same health, education and other benefits Ottawa gives status Indians. This means they could also hunt, trap, fish and gather on public land.

So why does this make Genealogy important? I'm a Metis. I applied for and received my Metis status card many years ago. Without genealogy I would never have known I had native heritage. My native ancestor was a Mohawk woman named Ots-Toch who married a Dutchman named Cornelis Van Slyke.  I would never have discovered this without pursuing my family tree. It was not common knowledge in our family.

This new ruling could have a huge positive financial impact for me, my children and grandchildren. And we have genealogy to thank for me applying for and being granted my Metis status.

You can read more about this decision here. 

FN Please note that I am using the word "Indian" here as that is the term with legal meaning in the Indian Act of Canada

1 comment:

Yvonne Demoskoff said...

It's interesting to read about this ruling, Lorine. It's only been a few short years that I found out through researching my family tree that I have Metis ancestry on my paternal side. After some recent research at trying to "scale" a brick wall, I am now closer to determining if I have another Metis branch.