Statement from Métis Nation President Clément Chartier
TORONTO, July 17, 2017 – It has been the longstanding position of the Métis Nation that the Premiers should recognize s.35 inherent self-government rights and have intergovernmental meetings with the three constitutionally recognized Indigenous peoples as represented by the AFN, ITK and MNC. During the rule of the Harper government, our meetings with the Provinces through the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group (AAWG) were constrained by the absence of the federal government at the table with us. As the current Chair of the Council of the Federation notes, having a federal government willing to come back to the table represents an important opportunity to advance beyond the limited results of the AAWG.
In fact, we now have a federal government that recognizes the inherent right to Indigenous self-government and the need to establish a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with the Métis Nation. The Prime Minister has established a permanent bilateral process with the Métis Nation to co-develop policies and programs and to resolve section 35 rights. He has also tried to engage the Métis Nation along with the First Nations and Inuit in intergovernmental talks on key matters such as climate change and health.
It was and is our hope that this important reset in our relationship with Canada will be accompanied by a willingness of the Provinces to join with Canada and the three Indigenous peoples in an intergovernmental process on similar terms. This would be of immense value; the priorities of the Canada-Métis Nation Accord that was signed by the Prime Minister and the leadership of the Métis Nation on April 13, 2017, includes key matters such as employment and training, education, housing, and health where the five westernmost provinces have strong interests and can make significant contributions.
Unfortunately, our recent correspondence with the Chair of the Council of Federation indicates that the Premiers are not there yet. Their position that they will determine who will be at the table and what will be discussed precludes our meaningful participation and relegates potential meetings to little more than photo-ops. That time has passed.
We strongly believe in the need for intergovernmental fora where the Indigenous peoples can meaningfully engage with the Provinces and federal government including meetings with the Premiers. These fora should be built on the same recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership that guides the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism. I encourage the Premiers in their upcoming meeting to consider joining the First Nations, Inuit, Métis Nation and Canada in developing principles for this type of engagement so we can then move on to making Canada a better country.
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.
For further information: Ke Ning, Métis National Council, c: (613) 297-5193, e: ken@ metisnation.ca