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Sask. Métis leader disappointed with federal appeal

Process could take years
Reported by Lasia Kretzel
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Métis Nation of Saskatchewan president Robert Doucette is disappointed with the Federal Government’s decision to appeal the Federal Court’s ruling over jurisdiction of Metis and non-status Indians.

Doucette spoke with Newstalk’s David Kirton on Friday and said an appeal will only damage relations between the government and First Nations.

“I am really disappointed because we’re back to square one,” Doucette said. “I think the federal government really missed a historic opportunity in the history of this country to fix the wrong that happened over a couple hundred years ago and to really sit down and talk with Metis people.”

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and several Métis and non-status Indians took the federal government to court in 1999, alleging discrimination.

The Federal Court ruled that Canada’s 200,000 Métis and 400,000 non-status Indians fall under federal jurisdiction and are considered "Indians" under the Constitution Act, on January 8.

On Wednesday, Aboriginal Affairs minister John Duncan said the government will appeal the decision due to the ruling’s ramifications.

The appeals process will likely take years, meaning Métis and non-status Indians will remain in jurisdictional-limbo, Doucette said.

“We’re going to be a political football again,” he said, referring to how the federal and provincial governments habitually pass responsibility for Metis and non-status Indians off to the other.

Still, Doucette said he has not lost hope in the power of discussion.

“I’m very hopeful and I hope Minister John Duncan sees the merit in that ruling and will still sit down with Metis leadership and talk about how we can work together to deal with all these social conditions Metis people are faced with.

Doucette said an offer from Minister Duncan to sit down would be a gesture of good will and would build a “community spirit.”

lkretzel@rawlco.com

Follow on Twitter: @LKretzel