Métis Nation-Saskatchewan takes next step towards self-determination

The Métis flag at Sask. Poly only stays up for Louis Riel Day. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

An agreement signed by the federal government and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MNS) Thursday served as the next step towards Métis self-governance and self-determination in the province.

The self-government agreement recognizes the Métis Nation’s right to self-governance and self-determination and sets out the mandate of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. It also sets out the next steps to formally recognize Métis governments as Indigenous governments under Canadian law.

Agreements were also signed with the Métis Nation of Albert and the Métis Nation of Ontario.

While the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan already has an established governance structure, the agreements deal with the recognition of jurisdiction in areas such as citizenship, leadership selection and government operations.

“The parties acknowledge that greate control by the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan over development affecting its citizens will enable them to maintain and strengthen their rights, governance structures, institutions, distinct culture and traditions and promote development in accordance with their needs, interests and aspiration,” the document reads.

It’s one of several steps in the process to advance reconciliation set out in the framework agreement signed in Batoche last year.

The agreement gives the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan the mandate to represent the province’s Métis and establishes their right to governance over internal affairs.

Financing the Métis government will be a shared responsibility of the Métis government and the Government of Canada, the report said. The federal government, though, will provide support for continuing consultations with the Métis membership.

“Fundamental to this process will be the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan undertaking extensive outreach and consultations with their citizens to further implement Métis self-government,” the federal government wrote in a press release.

“The parties are also committed to continue developing shared and balanced solutions that advance reconciliation, enhance community well-being and are respectful of the rights and interests of all Canadians.”

According to a press release issued by the Métis Nation- Saskatchewan, the provincial body has shown national leadership by “working collaboratively to establish a Constitution and a democratically elected assembly to govern the Métis People in Saskatchewan. These existing governance structures and Constitution will make the implementation process for Métis Nation-Saskatchewan much easier in the months ahead.”

Both the MNS and the Government of Canada described the signing of the agreement as “historic.”

“Today is a day to celebrate the legacy of our Métis ancestors and the future of our children. For over a century, our people have fought – figuratively and literally – for recognition, respect and a rightful place in Canadian society,” MNS president Glen McCallum said in a Government of Canada press release.

“This agreement acknowledges the right of our people to self-government and to a true nation-to-nation relationship. We are able to stand taller today because we stand on the shoulders of giants and on the cusp of a better future.”

“By signing these historic agreements today, our government is taking a fundamental step to advance reconciliation and transform our relationships with the Métis Nation of Alberta, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan,” added Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett.

“We are committed to advancing self-determination as we strengthen our government-to-government relationships.”

The agreements signed Thursday also set out other areas where the Métis nations and the federal government could negotiate jurisdiction.

According to the agreement, further discussions could centre around:
Additional self-government jurisdiction
language culture and heritage
early childhood development
child and family services
administration of justice
housing and infrastructure
health services and promotion
economic development
veterans affairs
application of Métis laws on lands held by Métis government or governance structure
involvement or shared decision making in relation to water and subsurface rights, wildlife fishing and fisheries, forests, protected areas and land management
environmental assessment
national parks
Other matters, including taxation.