Louis Riel Day – November 16 in Ontario

Louis Riel Day is a day to celebrate the life of the controversial Métis leader and the efforts he made for Métis rights and also to acknowledge Métis contributions to Canada.  No doubt you will remember my blog about Louis Riel last year.  This year I wanted to focus more on the Métis than Louis himself because the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada are holding a free public legal education event in the afternoon of Friday November 15, 2013 at the Toronto Hilton Hotel (registration by Nov. 13 required at 416-947-3413 or equityevents@lsuc.on.ca).

At the event, there will be a panel discussion of R. v. Powley, 2003 SCC 43, [2003] 2 SCR 207, a landmark case recognizing Métis rights protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.  In the process of doing so, the Court discussed at length what Métis identity is and adopted three indicia proposed by Vaillancourt Prov. J. and O’Neill J. in the courts below: self-identification, ancestral connection, and community acceptance.  The Court specifically stated that these indicia do not comprise a comprehensive definition, but clearly what they were considering was a determination based largely on Métis cultures:

 The term “Métis” in s. 35 does not encompass all individuals with mixed Indian and European heritage; rather, it refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, way of life, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears.  Métis communities evolved and flourished prior to the entrenchment of European control, when the influence of European settlers and political institutions became pre-eminent. …

The panel will also be discussing Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 SCC 14 (CanLII), in which the Supreme Court held earlier this year, six justices to two, that the federal Crown failed to implement the land grant provision set out in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 in accordance with the honour of the Crown.  Justices Rothstein and Moldaver dissented on the basis that the majority of the Court was proposing a new common law constitutional obligation derived from the honour of the Crown, an unpredictable expansion of the scope of the duties engaged under the honour of the Crown.

And what does this have to do with the library?  Naturally we have a wealth of resources available to you to help you come to your own conclusions on Métis cultures and land rights of the Métis.  Here is a very small sampling: