Daniels v Canada

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Daniels v Canada
Court Federal Court of Canada
Full case name Harry Daniels, Gabriel Daniels, Leah Gardner, Terry Joudrey and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples v. Her Majesty the Queen, as represented by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Attorney General of Canada
Decided January 8, 2013 (2013-01-08)
Citation(s) '[2013] F.C.R.  6 (FCT)
Case opinions
Persons who are Métis or non-status Indians are "Indians" as the term is used within s 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.
Court membership
Judge sitting M. Phelan

Daniels v Canada, [2013] F.C.R. 6 is a case of the Federal Court of Canada. It held that the Métis people and non-status Indians are "Indians" for the purpose of s 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867.[1]



The Plaintiffs in the case were Harry Daniels,[2] a Métis activist, who died before the case was heard; his son Gabriel; Leah Gardner, a non-status Indian from Ontario; Terry Joudrey, a non-status Indian from Nova Scotia; and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.[3] The Defendants were Her Majesty the Queen, as represented by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; and the Attorney General of Canada.[4]


The Plaintiffs asked the Court to declare:[5]

  1. that Métis and non-status Indians are "Indians" as the term is used in s 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867,
  2. that the Queen owes a fiduciary duty to them as such,
  3. and that they have the right to be consulted by the federal government on a collective basis, respecting their rights, interests and needs as Aboriginal people.

This was based on the facts that the Métis had been considered Aboriginals in Rupert's Land and the Northwest Territories, that non-status Indians were those descended from Indians that the Indian Act did not apply to, and that because of the government's refusal to recognized these groups, that they have been discriminated against.[6]

The Defendants argued that there were insufficient facts for a declaration to be issued, that Métis had never been considered Indians, that there was not a group known as "non-status Indians", and denied allegations of discrimination.[7] They claimed that issuing any declaration requested by the Plaintiffs would only lead to more litigation.[8]


The Federal Court agreed to the first declaration, while dismissing the other two.[9] It determined that such a declaration was along the lines recommended by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People[10] It found that the overarching purposes of the Constitution Act, 1867 were settlement, expansion and development of the Dominion; that building a transcontinental railroad was integral to these purposes, that section 91:24 of the Constitution Act, 1867—the power over 'Indians'—was related to these purposes, that by s. 91:24 the Framers of the Constitution Act, 1867 intended to give themselves adequate power to deal with any and all situations involving indigenous people that could frustrate these purposes and accordingly the power over "Indians" at s. 91:24 was large enough to deal with all aboriginal people, including the Métis of the West. The court found support for that interpretation in that fact that Métis had been recognized as Indians under the 1868 Secretary of State Act.[11] He agreed that the definition of "Indian" in the Indian Act was narrower with the one found in s 91(24).[12]


On February 6, 2013, the Government of Canada appealed the ruling.[13] The appeal was heard on October 29–30, 2013 by the Federal Court of Appeal (Canada), with the court upholding the original decision.[14] The Supreme Court of Canada heard a subsequent appeal on October 08 2015.[15]


  1. ^ Daniels, para. 619
  2. ^ http://www.abo-peoples.org/harry-daniels/
  3. ^ Daniels, paras. 30, 34, 37, and 40
  4. ^ Daniels, paras. 38 and 39
  5. ^ Daniels, para. 3
  6. ^ Daniels, para. 4
  7. ^ Daniels, para. 5
  8. ^ Daniels, para. 53
  9. ^ Daniels, paras. 20 and 619
  10. ^ Daniels, para. 59
  11. ^ Daniels, paras. 362-364
  12. ^ Daniels, para. 551
  13. ^ "Feds to appeal landmark ruling on Metis and non-status Indians". Toronto Sun. QMI Agency. February 6, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ Métis are within federal jurisdiction.
  15. ^ Harry Daniels, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen as represented by The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, et al.