Metis win Supreme Court rights battle

Paulette Flamond (third from left) was at the Supreme Court of Canada when the decision came down. Photo from Facebook
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OTTAWA, O.N. — On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that Metis and non-status are Indians under the Constitution.

Among those who hearing the ruling being read was Paulette Flamond, who lives and works in the Peace Region. Now, she is in press photos circulating newspapers and news sites across the country.

“It went from zero to 100,” she said, describing the scene when the decision was announced on a ‘very emotional day’ 17 years in the making. “I’m getting shivers as we speak.”

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Flamond, the Executive Director of the Northeast Aboriginal Business and Wellness Centre, was in Ottawa to support her friend, Norman Spence — the son of Metis rights pioneer, Angus Spence.

She born in Saskatchewan, and moved to Alberta but eventually settled in Charlie Lake.

Being part of this day in history had exceptionally personal roots for her, as described her own experiences never quite feeling like she fit in to either world as a Metis person, and faced hostility from some First Nations people due to her background.

“I was where I was meant to be yesterday,” she added. “Now I know what my forefathers were fighting for.”

Writing for the court, Justice Rosalie Abella said government at both levels have left non-status Indians and Metis people in a ‘jurisdictional wasteland’ by denying having legal authority over them.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples went to court in 1999 and alleged discrimination because they were not considered Indians under the Constitution. Among the plaintiffs was Metis leader Harry Daniels, who died in 2004. His son, Gabriel, took his place in the case the following year.

Daniels says the ruling could set the stage for a “provisional government on the road to a full self-governing nation within Canada, within the Constitution.”

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