OTTAWA, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A group of aboriginal Canadians won a court decision granting them recognition as "Indians" by the government in a protracted legal battle, officials said.
The Metis people number more than 400,000 strong, census counts show. But previously those identifying as Metis were not recognized by the federal government in Canada and were denied rights and benefits afforded other indigenous people.
Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan said Metis qualify under federal statutes and his ruling could force the Canadian government to negotiate standards of recognition and aid, though Phelan's ruling stops short of ordering the government to enter into an agreement, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail said Monday.
Phelan noted Metis faced many of the same difficulties, discrimination and mistreatment by government agencies historically, making them no different from other aboriginal groups who now receive special assistance from the government.
The case is likely to be appealed to Canada's Supreme Court, lawyers said.