After decades of lobbying, the Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) will finally have a distinct voice heard within the federal government.
The MNA signed an agreement with Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett that will allow it to negotiate with Canada as a Nation.
“We the Alberta Metis are a part of this countries fundamental roots,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. “Our collective cultures are bound. After decades of persistence, we have secured a formal means to the beginning of a new relationship with the Government of Canada.”
The agreement states that in one year, there will be concrete action to assist the MNA and its membership.
“Negotiations will cover a range of important topics including Metis self-government, lands, rights, and a proper consultation protocol,” said Bennett.
Bennett said the agreement is long overdue.
“Today, we send a message loud and clear. The status quo is no longer acceptable. The Metis are no longer in the shadows. No longer the forgotten people. For generations, you have sought true and meaningful reconciliation with Canada.
“It is time for fairness and justice for all people of the Metis Nation.”
Poitras said there will be tangible benefits for the MNA’s nearly 100,000 members.
“A mutually agreeable arrangement allowing no-fee access for MNA citizens to National Parks in Alberta,” she said. “An agreement establishing terms of reference with a view to settling outstanding claims on the Metis Nation within Alberta.
“And an engagement with Indigenous Affairs Canada and Canada and Mortgage Housing Corporation in order to ensure the unique needs of the existing structures dealing with Metis housing in Alberta.”