Reconciliation framework between Metis, Canada a “starting point”
- NC Raine | July 25, 2018
The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) have signed a historic Framework Agreement for Advanced Reconciliation with the Government of Canada.
Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations was joined by Glen McCallum, President of the MN-S on July 20th in Batoche, Saskatchewan, for the agreement signing.
The agreement is being called “a starting point”, in which the MN-S and the Government of Canada are to work together in solving many long-standing issues pertaining to Metis inherent Indigenous rights (recognized in Section 35 of The Constitution Act of Canada).
“It is really important that we are able to put our signatures to this kind of promise, that holds us to account in terms of the progress in – not only what we will together – but how we will do it together as true partners. Government to government. Nation to nation,” said Minister Bennett at the signing. “We have an opportunity now to make the recognition of Indigenous rights as important as Medicare in the identity of every Canadian.”
Reconciliation efforts in areas such as rights to land and resources, self-governance, self-determination, education, and preservation of culture are some of the key priorities and topics in the agreement. The Framework Agreement will also work to clarify Section 35 rights, as well as broader inherent rights for Metis people.
“There’s no doubt about it – this is historic. It represents a significant starting point for the Metis Nation -Saskatchewan and the government of Canada to begin to resolve many longstanding, outstanding issues,” said Thomas Isaac, who served as the Minister’s special representative for providing independent legal advice on how the government should treat Section 35. “The Metis have shown, through actions, that you can preserve your identity, your culture, and you can protect your rights, and still be a proud Canadian.”
This agreement comes less than six months after the MN-S and the government of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding for exploratory talks on reconciliation.
Under the agreement, the federal government will provide funds specifically designated to provide a forum for nation-to-nation discussion. The MN-S says these funds are key, as their government is currently in a state of rebuilding. The Metis will receive $1.5 billion over the next 10 years from the federal government.
“We can move forward together to address the issues that affect Metis people and Canada,” said McCallum. “Specifically, to advance outstanding Metis claims, support our government, and ensuring our people are supported properly.”
This marks the first time a federal government in Canada has committed to deal with the Metis on a nation-to-nation basis.
“All the years that the Metis have been left on the sidelines, for the first time, the federal government and ourselves have come to the point where real progress is being made,” said McCallum.
Metis Nation governments in Manitoba, Alberta, and Ontario have already signed similar framework agreements.