OTTAWA -- A federal court ruled this morning that Métis and non-status Indians do have status under the Constitution Act.
The ruling could affect about 600,000 people, including 400,000 Métis and many non-status aboriginals who live off-reserve.
The ruling is more than a decade in the making as the original case was first filed in 1999 by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
They argued non-status aboriginals should in fact be recognized as Indians under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act of 1867. Their position is that non-status Indians are owed the same fiduciary duty from Ottawa as status Indians and that Canada should negotiate and consult with Métis and non-status Indians with respect to their rights, interests and needs as aboriginal people.
The decision affects the relationship between Ottawa and this group, and could affect things such as fishing, hunting and trapping rights, and health and education benefits available to on-reserve aboriginals.
However the decision did not specifically order such negotiations to take place.
In 2006, there were more than 71,000 Métis living in Manitoba.