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Métis constitutional rights in Section 35(1)

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  • In this article, the author explores the need for a theory of Aboriginal rights broad enough to include all of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. She examines recent developments in judicial recognition of the constitutional rights of the Metis people since their inclusion in s. 35(l) of the Constitution Act, 1982 and applies the fiduciary principle to dealings between the federal government and the Metis. The author also argues that the Metis' inclusion in s. 35(l) suggests that their rights are inherent, sui generis rights. However, the author is concerned about decisions such as R. v. Van der Peet, which may limit Aboriginal s. 35 rights to the protection of precontact activities that were, and continue to be, central to Aboriginal culture. The author argues that using European contact as a blanket cut-off point for defining rights of all Aboriginal peoples could threaten the rights of the Metis, whose culture is a blend of European and Aboriginal elements. A more appropriate date is suggested for measuring the existence of historical Metis rights, namely the date of actual imposition or negotiation of colonial law or government. | L 'auteure traite de la ndcessitd de disposer d'une thiorie des droits des autochtones suffisamment large pour inclure tous les peuples autochtones du Canada. Elle examine lvolution rdcente de la reconnaissance judiciaire des droits constitutionnels des MAtis depuis leur inclusion au par. 35(1) de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982, et applique le principe de fiduciaire aux relations entre le gouvernement fiddral et les Mitis. Selon, 1 auteure, cette inclusion suggirerait que les droits des Mtis sont des droits sui generis. L'auteure se dit toutefois prioccupde par les dicisions rendues dans R. c. Van der Peet notamment, susceptibles de restreindre la garantie des droits visis au par. 35(1) aux activitds prieuropdennes qui ont toujours fait partie intigrante de la culture autochtone. L'auteure affirme que le fait d'utiliser le contact avec les Europdens comme critdre global de difinition des droits de tous les peuples autochtones pourrait menacer les droit des Mitis, dont la culture est un milange d ljments europdens et autochtones. Elle propose un critire qui permettrait mieux de diterminer l'existence des droits historiques des M~tis - la date rielle d'imposition ou de n~gociation du droit ou du rigime colonial.

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    © 1997 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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    • Bell, C. (1997). Métis constitutional rights in Section 35(1). Alberta Law Review, 36(1), 180-217. Retrieved from
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