Several key issues addressed at MNS Winter Assembly
- NC Raine | November 25, 2019
After a year of significant moves, agreements, and progress, the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) gathered for the winter session of their bi-annual Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly, which ran from November 22-24, focused on several key issues, one of which will be the move to self-government.
“For the first time in our history, we are proving to our governments, both federal and provincial, that we speak with one voice. And that voice is strong,” said MN-S President Glen McCallum.
“We are moving to be in full governance mode quickly and it is imperative we continue the commitment of following our constitution and being transparent and accountable to our citizens,” he said.
Earlier this year, the federal government signed landmark self-government agreements with the Metis Nations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario. These agreements could give Metis Nations control over hunting and fishing rights, and rights to occupy traditional territories.
“We're transitioning from a non-profit. We have to, we have no choice. We have to prove to government that we can run our own affairs,” said McCallum. “Every move that we make is to benefit our people and get what we deserve.”
Another key issue addressed during the Assembly MN-S Citizenship Registry. According to McCallum, Saskatchewan is home to 80,000 Metis individuals (a 2016 StatsCan survey had just over 52,000 individuals in Saskatchewan identify as Metis), yet the MN-S has never had more than 3,000 individuals in the registry until this year, he said.
“The most important part of our government is the registry,” he said. “There's a lot of movement that has been happening lately. We have MOUs for education, we have MOUs for health, and we have a very good relationship with the federal government.”
The three-day assembly will also include sessions on duty to consult, tribunals, early learning and childcare, and constitutional reform.
Richard Quintal, MN-S Chief Executive Officer, addressed some of the specifics of the self-government agreement including Core Governance, and some of the concerns associated with the prospective changes.
“There's going to be some confusion that we've signed away rights. Nothing has been signed away. The door has been opened. That Core Governance Agreement has been signed and now its up to [the Metis Nation] to make government a reality. That's something that has never happened before,” said Quintal.
A fiscal relationship agreement, in which the federal government and Metis Nations would establish sufficient, predictable, and sustained funding, was also addressed by Quintal, as well as what a Intergovernmental Relationship Agreement with Canada would look like.
“What are the rule and laws that we preside over, and the rules and laws that Canada presides over? For example, the national bank and military – those will remain with Canada but everything else will fall under us,” said Quintal.
“The last piece of the transition plan is how we transition from a not-for-profit to a government. It's for (the Metis Nation) to decide. It's all about transitioning to a government.”
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