Part II of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982
35. (1) Recognition of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights
The existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.
35. (2) Definition of the aboriginal peoples of Canada
In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.
35. (3) Land Claims agreements
For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.
35. (4) Aboriginal and treaty rights are guaranteed equally to both sexes
Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
Who Are the Métis?
The question of who is a Métis within the meaning of this section of the Constitution Act is unfortunately not defined. The term Métis has had different meanings at various points in time. Today there are various definitions of the Métis, but there is no single definition acceptable to everyone.
There are at least two distinct cultural backgrounds for the peoples known as Métis. First there are the descendants of English and Scottish marriages to Indian spouses. These were the children of Hudson Bay Company employees. Second were the French Métis from Quebec, who were mostly the children of North West Company employees.
The government of Canada as far back as 1870 referred to all mixed blood descendants of white and native people in English documents as half-breeds. Official documents in French referred to them as Métis.
Some organizations define Métis as a person with at least one aboriginal grandparent. This definition ignores the fact that an individual with several aboriginal ancestors’ further back in their family tree could have even more Indian blood, but would not be considered Métis. In my opinion, this is a self-serving definition.
The Ontario aboriginal community, as well as the rest of Canada, is large and complex, but that doesn’t mean that the definition of Métis has to be. Our definition of Métis is simple – any person with an aboriginal ancestor.
If you believe you qualify, please find our online status application form here.
If you prefer to fill out a pdf version to submit via email, or to print off the form and send it in the mail, please find it here.