This past weekend was the spring 2023 Métis Nation Legislative Assembly in Saskatoon.
Delegates from regions across the province gathered for the two-day assembly to have discussion on a wide variety of topics and pass several resolutions.
One of the resolutions to pass, was for the assembly and the Provincial Métis Council to call on the provincial government to enter into an agreement with the MN-S on province-wide Métis harvesting rights.
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently ruled in favour of the MN-S on this matter saying they can take the province to court over a Métis harvesting rights issue in northern Saskatchewan.
The matter arose in the fall of 2021, when the provincial government issued permits to NextGen Energy for its Rook 1 project – a uranium project in the far north.The MN-S argued that this project could affect Métis harvesting rights and the province did not properly consult the Métis before giving out the permits.
The Government of Saskatchewan filed a challenge against this claim as they asserted their consultation was consistent with formal consultation policy.
A recent Appeals Court decision affirmed the MN-S’s right to bring the matter before the courts.
However, MN-S president Glen McCallum says the Métis Nation would prefer to negotiate, rather than litigate.
“For myself, I want to talk and I want to communicate and have good agreements that are fair for Saskatchewan,” he said.
McCallum says he is confident an agreement will happen and is encouraged by what he has seen from the province so far.
“I was very encouraged in regards to the premier telling us ‘I will talk to the departments’, he has done that and come through,” the MN-S President said. “But there is still work to be done and that’s why I said it was very close and hopefully by July, Batoche Days, we will be able to sign something.”
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and the province have signed MOUs in the past to work together on harvesting rights, however, a formal agreement in the province has never materialized.