Tri-council Métis Nation meeting furthers self-government collaboration

Métis Nation presidents Glen McCallum (front left, Saskatchewan) Audrey Poitras (front centre, Alberta) and Margaret Froh (front right, Ontario) and other members at a tri-council meeting in Edmonton. (Métis Nation of Saskatchewan/Submitted)

The Métis Nations of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario met for the first time this week since signing self-government agreements in Ottawa last year.

In June 2019, the Government of Canada announced Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed agreements with each president: Glen McCallum of Métis Nation Saskatchewan (MNS), Audrey Poitras of the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and Margaret Froh of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).

The agreements affirmed Métis government jurisdiction in areas such as citizenship and leadership selection.

From Jan. 14 to 16, the three groups of leaders met in Edmonton. They identified common priorities, mutually beneficial opportunities and how to enhance their collaboration and cooperation.

They passed a resolution calling for more transparency and accountability from the Métis National Council (MNC), which represents Métis people in all of northwestern Canada.

According to a news release, this would “affirm that self-government and rights related discussions and negotiations must occur between Canada and the Métis governments, not through MNC, and directing the creation of a working group to explore potential reform of the MNC.”

Delegates also passed a joint declaration to continue to work together at a national level in ongoing partnerships and negotiations with the federal government.

They will also develop a memorandum of understanding that formalizes the relationship between the Métis governments for consideration at a future meeting.

“Increasingly the MNO, MNA, and MNS have been working together to advance common interests trilaterally and to develop shared and balanced solutions to advance reconciliation, self-governance, and community well-being.”

“As we continue to collaborate with MNO and MNA, we build a stronger relationship,” said McCallum in the release.

“When we make efforts to work together, it brings a future with secure benefits for all Métis citizens. This gathering of Métis governments has been another step in realizing the dreams of our people and reinforces the importance of self-governance and self-determination.”

Poitras emphasized that ancestors have honoured Métis leader Louis Riel’s vision of self-determination.

“After decades of struggle and perseverance, our goal was finally realized with the signing of the self-government agreements with Canada. Now the work begins. This historical tri-council Meeting is the beginnings of three Métis governments finding strength in unity,” she said.

Froh said after signing the agreements in the summer, the three governments have been looking for ways to further their collaboration and “to take the gains we have made and really roll up our sleeves and move forward on self-determination and self-government on behalf of all Métis citizens.”

The MNS, MNA and MNO all signed Framework Agreements for Advancing Reconciliation with the federal government between 2017 and 2018.