Parks Canada announces historic land transfer to Métis Nation – Saskatchewan

Metis Nation - Saskatchewan has regained ownership of ancestral land in Batoche from Parks Canada after the signing of a land transfer on Friday -- Bailey Sutherland/Daily Herald

Parks Canada announced the transfer of 690 hectares of land west of Batoche National Historic Site to the citizens of the Metis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN – S) during the 50th anniversary of Back to Batoche Days.

Returning after a two-year long hiatus, Back to Batoche Days ended their opening ceremony on Friday with Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and President of MN – S, Glen McCallum, revealing that the lands on the west side of the Batoche National Historic Site would now be transferred over to the Metis people as an example of the Government of Canada’s commitment to advancing reconciliation. 

“The Batoche grounds have always been important to our Métis citizens, our history and the resistance. This was the defining moment for us as Métis in Saskatchewan,” McCallum said. “The repatriation of Batoche lands is tangible and starts the path to reconciliation. Our past leaders who dreamed of this day aren’t with us anymore but will always be remembered. We celebrate in their memory.”

Parks Canada and MN – S signed the Framework Agreement for Advancing Reconciliation in July of 2018 through the Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination process. 

Since December 2020, the two parties have been exploring and discussing a full-range of options related to the future management of Batoche National Historic Site under the Framework Agreement. 

“These lands hold deep cultural, spiritual, and historic significance for the citizens of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan,” reads a media release from MN – S. “Parks Canada has long worked with Métis peoples at Batoche National Historic Site and this transfer of land and commitment to collaborative management marks a significant step in the ongoing relationship.

“No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Government of Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that recognizes and honours the contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous peoples have with ancestral lands and waters.”

In recognition of the Metis people’s deep connections with Batoche, the Government of Canada chose to transfer the west side lands to ensure the continued natural and cultural protection of ancestral homelands. 

“Today’s announcement advances reconciliation through meaningful action with Métis peoples,” Vandal said. “The collaboration between Parks Canada and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, with regard to Batoche National Historic Site, marks a strengthening of this relationship by returning homeland to Métis people and marking another step towards collaborative management of Batoche National Historic Site.”

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, also announced on Friday that the Government of Canada is planning to invest $190 million to Metis housing needs, as well as more than $124 million to fund enhancing the work already underway on the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Housing Strategy.

“Indigenous peoples, Metis, have historically suffered the effects of inadequate housing,” said Miller. “A key component to identity and your culture and self-government, something you’ve been fighting for, for years, and with our government supporting you every step of the way, that’s housing.”