Program delivery appears to be one of the main issues in the government’s attempt to determine who and who isn’t Metis in Canada.
This morning, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples was in Saskatoon to hold hearings on the issue.
The Senate committee is currently on a fact-finding tour across Canada, and plans to send a report to government next year.
Senator Gerry St. Germain says the issue of Metis identity has consistently been put off since 1982.
St. Germain adds the government needs to get a better handle on who is Metis, so it can be sure programs are being delivered to the right people:
“It all comes down to identifying who is a Metis, and how do you enumerate them, and how should they be registered. And we’re not saying the government should do this. The hearings are trying to establish who wants to take on this responsibility, because it’s a huge responsibility. If you’re going to have programs, you’ve got to know who your programs are for — and that’s really what it’s all about.”
Senator Lillian Dyck is a member of the George Gordon First Nation.
She says people impersonating Metis have taken advantage of services and programs in the past, and that’s why it’s important to determine who is and isn’t Metis:
“We were actually at Batoche, and we heard there with the harvester rights — when that Powley decision came out — apparently there were hunters coming out of the woodwork claiming to be Metis that weren’t really Metis. So, as things improve, and I’m sure they will, and we start developing more programs for employment and education, we’re also going to have that same issue come forward.”
St. Germain says questions about who should be in charge of the enumeration process are subjects that need to be addressed.
The hearings continue in Ile a la Crosse tomorrow.