Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®

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Harry Daniels The Man Who Put Métis in the Constitution

"Harry Daniels will share with Louis Riel the honor of having introduced the rights of the Métis people in the Constitution of Canada: Riel in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, and Harry in S. 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982" [1]


The late Harry Daniels was a “force majeure”. Born on Sept. 16, 1940 in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan, Daniels worked tirelessly on behalf of Métis and non-status Indians at the local, national and international levels for over 40 years. He was also an author, an instructor at the University of Saskatchewan, a staunch practitioner of the Michif language, an actor and, according to family and friends, a man who embraced every opportunity to express his Métis heritage via jigging.

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Topics: Metis

6 Things You May Want to Know About the Daniels Decision

There are a lot of questions and some confusion out there about the April 14, 2016 Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) (Daniels) and I’ve received quite a number of “what does this mean?” emails so figured a blog post on the topic would be timely. What follows are some notable legal perspectives from Indigenous law legal experts along with my not legal comments.

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Topics: Metis

Fern Perkins Métis Education Enhancement Program Coordinator

Fern Perkins coordinates the Métis Education Enhancement Program for the Métis Nation of Greater Victoria and has taught Indigenous Education at UVic.

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Topics: Aboriginal Education, Metis

A report on Métis Identity by Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee

Ottawa (June 6, 2013) – A report on Métis identity released today by the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee calls on the federal government to develop a coherent and comprehensive approach to relations between Canada and the Métis through continued support of bilateral and tripartite negotiations with parties including the relevant national Aboriginal organizations. Additionally, the report suggests efforts to begin engagement with local and regional groups representing Métis constituencies across Canada are necessary.

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Topics: Metis

Louis Riel Institute plans new visitor programs for Louis Riel House


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Topics: Aboriginal Relations, Metis

Commemorative Medal Honours First Nation and Métis Contributions to War of 1812

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, May 22, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) --The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, is proud to unveil the commemorative War of 1812 medal for the 44 First Nation and Metis communities with a heritage linked to the War of 1812.

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Topics: First Nations, Metis, Aboriginal History

The Metis Flag

The Métis flag or flag of the Métis Nation features a white infinity sign on a blue background. The infinity symbol represents the mixing of two distinct cultures, European and First Nations, to create a unique and distinct culture, that of the Métis (which means “to mix” in Latin).The infinity symbol, which refers to a quantity without end, in this situation symbolizes the faith that the Métis culture will exist forever.

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Topics: Metis

The Métis Nation: A Battered but Unbroken People

During the 1600s, France began establishing settlements along the St. Lawrence River to advance its fur trade interests. The prevailing “seigneurial” landholding system was a legacy of the feudal age: rigid and restrictive. So, enterprising Frenchmen, soon to be known as “coureurs des bois” (runners in the woods) sought to improve their prospects by venturing into the wilderness, despite restrictions imposed on them by King Louis XIV. The coureurs des bois began establishing homes for themselves within, or beside, Indian communities, marrying Aboriginal women, and starting families. The birth of their children marked the birth of the Métis Nation.

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Topics: Metis

Aboriginal Peoples

The term Aboriginal Peoples came into use in 1982 when the Government of Canada patriated the Canadian Constitution, and in so doing, formally entrenched Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the supreme law of Canada as seen below.

“35(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “Aboriginal Peoples of Canadaincludes the Indian, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1), “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

The term Aboriginal Peoples literally comes from subsection (2) of section 35 of the Constitution when it identifies and includes: the Indian, Inuit, and Métis Peoples of Canada.

The Government of Canada was looking for a way to describe descendants of the original Indigenous Peoples and decided the term Aboriginal Peoples would be the best term to use.

It should be noted that although the term Aboriginal Peoples is the constitutionally correct term, research should be undertaken ahead of time to avoid mistakes on how or when to use Aboriginal Peoples as some communities may prefer to be called something else, such as First Nations.

Other considerations about how or when to use the term Aboriginal Peoples to describe a group of Peoples should include an understanding of the diversity of your audience. If you are speaking to a group that includes Indian and Métis Peoples, for example, then the usage of the term would be appropriate as it is an inclusive term. On the other hand, if you were meeting directly with a First Nation then I would consider using that term.

Be sure to tweet this to your networks and to join the discussion below as questions and comments are welcome.

It's important to be familiar with terminology when working across cultures. Download our free "Guide to Terminology" for a handy reference.

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Topics: Aboriginal peoples, Indian Act, Inuit, Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples, Metis