Agreement opens way for greater MN-S role, land ownership at Batoche
- John Lagimodiere | January 22, 2021
Batoche is a special place but has always been an area of conflict between the Métis and Canada.
From the violent birth of our country to disputes over land, the historic site, and how the shared history has been portrayed, it has been hard to find peace.
Now, building on many steps over the last several years, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan President Glen McCallum is excited about a new agreement between the MN-S and Parks Canada that could lead to peace in the valley.
“We have the right people. The right structures and governance right now. This stems from the MOU with the Federal Government after the Daniels Case came down,” said President McCallum in an interview.
The 2016 Supreme Court of Canada Daniels Decision deemed Metis people Indians under the Constitution and opened the door for negotiation of land claims and undetermined rights.
“(The new agreement) has strengthened all of our Ministries. We are moving in the right direction and developing those true partnerships. With Parks Canada we will work toward ensuring we play an integral role in the future of Batoche National Historic Site and that we bring this land home to the Métis Nation.”
A virtual agreement-signing with Parks Canada in late December sealed the deal. The partners have agreed to discuss a full range of options related to the future management of Batoche National Historic Site.
The agreement also opens the way to address the key question of land ownership or some sort of control of the land near Batoche.
There is precedent for that as noted by Ron Hallman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada during the December Zoom broadcast.
“Today, we are taking another important step forward in an evolving collaborative relationship. I take great pride in joining with the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan to sign the Terms of Reference that will guide our joint exploration of a full range of options for the future management of Batoche National Historic Site, building upon past milestones, such as the transfer of the Back to Batoche Festival grounds in 1996, and the signing of the Batoche Management Agreement in 1998,” said Hallman.
President McCallum has his eye on land around Batoche.
“We are at this point now where we can discuss signing over some lands. There are 600 acres right across from the Historic Site. We have had a footprint at Batoche since well before 1885,” said McCallum. “There’s a lot of scenarios that could happen with real negotiation and partnership. Find a way for us to be owners and at the same time, sharing responsibility. We can’t do it alone. Let’s work together. We have a shared interest, and we want to play a role.”
President McCallum harkens back to the days in the 70s when Back to Batoche was about army tents, rations, elders and Metis politics. “All you had to bring was blankets. They took care of everyone. That is why now we don’t charge elders or veterans to enter Batoche now,” said McCallum who is holding out hope that the Covid-delayed Back to Batoche 50th anniversary celebrations can happen this July.
“The Historic Site is a big part of those gatherings. Adriana Bacheschi, the Superintendent for Parks and I have become good friends and we have an open door with them. We respect the people, the staff members, and the important work they do. Being at Batoche to sign the agreement and the partnership we have; it is a beautiful thing to see.”