R v Powley

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R. v. Powley 2003 SCC 43, commonly called the Powley ruling, is a Supreme Court of Canada case defining Métis Aboriginal rights under section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.


A Sault Ste. Marie father and son, Steve and Roddy Powley, were charged in 1993 with possession of a moose that they had shot out of season and without a licence. The pair pleaded not guilty on the grounds that as Métis, they had an Aboriginal right to hunt that was not subject to Ontario game laws.

Procedural history[edit]

The Ontario Court of Justice agreed and dismissed the charges. The Ontario Attorney General appealed that decision to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which upheld the acquittals and denied the appeal.

The Ontario Attorney General appealed again, to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which also upheld the acquittals and denied the appeal. Finally, Ontario appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. A e a unanimous court upheld the decisions of the lower courts and defined a ten-step test for Métis rights, based on modified tests from the previous Indian Aboriginal rights decisions in R. v. Sparrow and R. v. Van der Peet.


Métis people seeking to exercise Aboriginal rights of hunting and fishing have to show that the practice in question relates to the practice of a rights-bearing Métis community prior to European political and legal control, and that they are members of the corresponding modern Métis community, not only by self-identification but by acceptance within the community.[1]

Thus, if a Métis group of people established a rights-bearing community, which was distinct from any Indian or Inuit Aboriginal groups they had descended from, then the practices that community exercised prior to European control may be Section 35(1) rights.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R. v. Powley 2003 SCC 43, [2003] 2 SCR 207