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Who are the Métis People in Section 35(2)?

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  • Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes the aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples. Section 35(2) defines \"the Aboriginal peoples of Canada\" as Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples. Although s. 35 may appear straightforward, the author points out its ambiguity. This article attempts to clarify it. The ambiguity stems from the fact that the section does not define the term \"Metis\" nor does it say whether the \"Metis\" have existing aboriginal rights recognized in s. 35(1). These questions arise because self-identifying Metis are not a homogeneous group that lend themselves to easy definition. Moreover they have traditionally been excluded from federal programs benefitting Indian peoples. The author examines the difficulties involved in defining the term 'Metis ' and analyzes some of the frameworks that have been suggested by various groups, including Metis organizations. She concludes that the term must be defined according to logical and political considerations in addition to self-indentification based on racial, cultural and historical criteria. | L'article 35 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 vise deux objectifs. Premierement, il reconnait les droits ancestraux ou issus de traits des peuples autochtones. Deuxiemement, il definit les \"Peuples autochtones du Canada\" comme incluant les Indiens, les Inuit et les Mgtis. Bien que cet article paraisse clair, I'auteur releve une ambiguit qu'elle s'efforce d'glucider. Elle provient dufait que le terme \"Mgtis\" n'y est pas ddfini et qu'il ne precise pas non plus si les \"Mtis\" refoivent les droits des peuples autochtones reconnus par 1'article 35(1). Ces questions sont soulev~es parce que les Metis ne forment pas un groupe homoglne qui se prete J une definition aisee. De plus, ils ont traditionnellement 9td exclus des programmes fddraux dont profitent les Indiens. L'auteur examine les problemes que pose la definition du terme \"Mdtis\" et analyse certains des cadres qui ont W sugg~rds par divers groupes, dont plusieurs organisations mtis. Elle conclut que le terme doit 9tre difini sur des bases logiques et politiques plut6t que d'aprds des criteres raciaux, culturels ou historiques.

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    Article (Published)
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    © 1991 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. (1991). Who are the Métis People in Section 35(2)? Alberta Law Review, 29(2), 351-381. Retrieved from
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