Metis flag. Photo courtesy of mmf.mb.ca
A report more than a year in the making has established new rules and recognition for Canada’s Metis people.
Today, the minister of Indigenous affairs says she welcomes the report and is fully committed to working together with the Metis based on a recognition of rights, cooperation and partnership.
The 50 page report contains 17 recommendations. It concludes Metis have special rights, governments — both federal and provincial, have a duty to consult, stable funding should be established, land claims policies should be reviewed and updated, and federal and provincial governments must work together to advance reconciliation with Metis.
Saskatchewan Metis leader, Robert Doucette is cautiously optimistic.
“I am very happy that the Trudeau Liberal government is moving in this direction,” he said. “It is a signal that this government is willing to engage with the Metis.”
Robert Doucette has been Saskatchewan’s Metis leader since 2007, but he is not seeking re-election. At the end of this month, the Saskatchewan Metis Nation will be holding its long delayed legislative assembly. An election is expected in September.
“We need governance reform and we need an election that will ensure the leaders that come after this current group has a strong mandate from Metis people,” said Doucette.
The report on reconciliation with Metis was written by Indigenous affairs ministerial assistant, Thomas Isaac. He began his work in June of 2015. Isaac met with Metis groups as well as provincial and federal leaders and other interested parties.
His report is a follow up to 2013 Supreme Court ruling that reaffirmed Metis have special and separate rights under the Canadian constitution and as such, deserve recognition and reconciliation. That ruling was further reinforced in April in the Daniels decision, where the Supreme Court ruled that Metis and non-status Indians have the same rights to programs and policies as Status Indians.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said, “We are fully committed to advancing a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with the Metis Nation.”