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Daniels, Harry W. (1940–2004)

Harry Daniels and Mireille Deyglun on the set of Madeleine at Lower Fort Garry, June 1986.
Regina Leader-Post

A Métis leader, social activist, author, and actor, Harry Daniels was born on September 16, 1940, in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. One of Canada’s most visible and charismatic modern Aboriginal leaders, Daniels spent over forty years in the national and international Aboriginal political arenas, fighting for the rights of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Influenced by the Labour movement and the civil rights movement, Daniels was one of the founding members of both the Métis Society of Saskatchewan (MSS) and the Native Council of Canada (NCC). He served as vice-president of the Métis Nation of Alberta and helped to organize the Métis Association of the Northwest Territories. From 1976 to 1981, Daniels served as NCC president; as the national spokesman for the Métis and Non-status Indians, he was primarily responsible for negotiating the constitutional recognition of the Métis into the Constitution Act, 1982. He was also chair of the Canadian Aboriginal Justice Council, and commissioner on the Métis and non-status Indian Crime and Justice Commission as well as the Métis and Non-Status Indian Constitutional Review Commission. From 1997 to 2000, he served as president of the NCC’s successor, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, calling on the United Nations to pressure the Canadian government to meet its obligations to the country’s Aboriginal peoples. Daniels was an accomplished author who wrote three books on Métis rights, as well as numerous papers, articles, and submission papers relating to the Constitution and Aboriginal rights. A talented film and stage actor, he held an undergraduate degree from the University of Saskatchewan, a graduate degree from Carleton University, and an honorary doctorate in Law from the University of Ottawa. He died in Regina on September 6, 2004.

Cheryl Troupe

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