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A new era in Métis constitutional rights: The importance of Powley and Blais

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  • Introduction: On 22 October 1993 Steve Powley and his son, both members of a Metis community near Sault Ste. Marie, were charged with hunting a moose without a licence and with knowingly possessing game hunted in contravention of Ontario's Game and Fish Act. The Powleys were acquitted at trial and at every subsequent appeal, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada. Ruling for the first time on the issue of Metis rights under s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the Supreme Court recognized that the Powleys, as Metis, had a constitutionally protected Metis Aboriginal right to hunt for food. However, the decision has far more importance beyond the recognition of subsistence rights of the Metis in and around Sault Ste. Marie. The unanimous decision of the Court suggests that provinces which ignore the existence of Metis hunting rights do not have a valid legislative objective to infringe this right, or which fail to consult with affected Metis rights holders on issues of accommodation are in breach of the Canadian constitution.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 2004 Catherine Bell et al. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Bell, C., & Leonard, C. (2004). A new era in Métis constitutional rights: The importance of Powley and Blais. Alberta Law Review, 41(4), 1049 -1083. Retrieved from
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