After the HUGE party celebrating the Supreme Court gain, what happens to us #Métis? What changes? What will remain the same?
1. Tax exemption
No. Unfortunate – but like most Indigenous people, Métis won’t be exempt from paying taxes on goods and services.
1,836,035 Indigenous People live on the land called Canada; less than 250,000* (even less if you subtract children and communities that traded those rights) benefit from tax exemption. The rest pay like everyone else. As an *Indian, you are subject to the same tax rules as other Canadian residents unless your income is eligible for the tax exemption under section 87 of the Indian Act. That exemption applies to the income of an Indian that is earned on a reserve or that is considered to be earned on a reserve, as well as to goods bought on, or delivered to, a reserve.
What that means is that a person must live on a reserve, earn his dough AND buy his bread on the reserve to benefit from the tax exemption. Clearly, not the case for Métis.
2. Hunting anywhere, anytime
Probably not. Harvesting rights are linked to our communities. And we have to prove that these communities existed and still exist today. It makes sense to me… otherwise, can we imagine Inuit hunt in the Eastern Townships?
Proving the existence of historic and contemporary communities takes a lot of work in my experience. It’s hard proving that mine was (easier) and I continue my research to find empirical documentation proving that it continued to exist despite all the laws that had assimilated our ancestors (really hard)…
3. Parading in First Nations Regalia
I sure as heck hope NOT! 😞 Western Métis have different regional customs; my Eastern Métis ethnogenesis (and theirs) are different from First Nations. We have strong cultures and wonderful traditions that belong to us! We do not need to prove ourselves as Indigenous by appropriating First Nations’ customs and clothing! Yes, we share ancestors and customs, but we have ours too – and it is important that it be said and that we respect each other
4. Claiming our ancestral lands.
Maybe … again we must refer to above: it would need to be proven that individual ancestral communities were “stolen” and that communities want them back – or at least be compensated adequately. (See Kouchibouguac.)
And again, do our ancestral lands belong to us alone, or did our ancestors share the land with neighboring First Nations? Is the desire for possession of land an indigenous or a colonist desire?
5. Create our own form of self-government
If we want services specific to the needs of our children, our Elders, we could, in theory, apply for the right to self-government, to manage for ourselves the issues that are important to us.
But…take note! First Nations and Inuit who are receiving significant amounts under Land Claim Agreements (see: James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement), and it’s those funds that are allowing them to implement economic development projects, programs for seniors and youth, etc …
How it would it work for Métis? Will we create community, provincial and federal governmental structures? Will we need a representative body such as the Association of First Nations (AFN) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to represent us in dealing with governments?
We Métis may soon be called to sit at the same table as First Nations and Inuit…We need to figure this out and THERE’S NO TIME TO LOOSE!
Spring will soon arrive – and with it, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada that might change our status. GET READY!
* I use the term *Indian* here only to align with the Act. I prefer using First Nations, Inuit and Métis – or better yet, the name of Nations as used by themselves, when speaking and writing about Indigenous Peoples.