Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario Métis sign self-government deal

Edmonton –

The three Metis groups signed a deal with the federal government on Friday to recognize them as indigenous governments, giving them constitutional status on par with indigenous peoples and opening the door to further negotiations, including compensation for lost lands. was opened.

“For more than 90 years, it has always been a dream: proper recognition by the Metis government,” said Audrey Poitras, President of Metis Nation, Alberta.

Crown and Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller also signed contracts with Metis Nation of Saskatchewan and Metis Nation of Ontario.

“We are working with Alberta’s Metis Nation to realize our shared priorities for reconciliation and support their vision of a better future for the citizens and communities represented by the Metis government. We look forward to co-developing our approach,” said Miller. on release.

The deal builds on a 2019 agreement that recognized the autonomy of the Métis but did not go so far as to name the groups that would form their government. Friday’s deal does just that, said Jason Madden, an attorney who represented Alberta Group.

“The deal says, ‘You are the government,'” he said.

It allows the group to control what it calls the “core elements” of autonomy. This includes determining who is a Métis citizen, electing leaders, and running the government.

It also brings the Metis Group under federal law that allows indigenous governments to control family and child welfare.

“For years we have stopped and started trying to figure out how to care for our own children,” Poitras said. have gone one step further to take care of their citizens.”

Madden said Friday’s signings are limited to those elements – for now.

“This agreement allows for complementary jurisdiction agreements,” he said. “(They) would then be negotiated to address land, harvest and other potentially more controversial issues.”

Madden said the Federal Liberals have committed to introduce legislation that would incorporate the accord into the constitution.

Poitras also hopes the deal will give Metis a stronger role in negotiations with Alberta.

The agreement also opens the door for further negotiations, including compensation for the infamous Metis scripting program.

In the late 19th century, the Métis were given scrip, a type of coupon, in exchange for land they had occupied for generations. The deed was intended to compensate Metis for extinguishing claims to those lands.

However, the program was riddled with scams.

Some have accused many Métis of forging their names on land transfer documents.

The Métis often had no land in the land they once roamed freely.

“Scrip is a disappointing legacy in this country,” Poitras said.

The deal specifically states that the signing group is now authorized to negotiate claims related to the script system.

The three agreements signed on Friday are not the first to recognize the Métis organization as a government. Manitoba’s Metis Nation signed a similar deal in 2019.

Negotiations are underway with the Metis Group of the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

On Friday, however, all three Metis nations were on a winning lap.

“We think of our past leaders and ancestors who asserted who we are,” Poitras said.

“It’s been amazing to see things really happen over the past five or six years and beyond.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on February 24, 2023.

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