By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – Sitting president Cassidy Caron has announced she won’t run in September’s Métis National Council (MNC) election, citing the coming birth of her first child.

Caron, who is the youngest and first female president in MNC history, announced her decision not to seek re-election after a single term at a May 23 news conference on Parliament Hill.

Caron said the MNC “needed significant rebuilding as a national Indigenous organization” at the time she secured election in September 2021.

“From the outset of my term, I committed to leading this period of change and transition. And now, three years later, I am proud of what we have accomplished,” she added.

The MNC is now a “transparent, accountable and effective” national organization, she added, with strong relations among its member Métis nations, and with federal and provincial governments, as well as its national counterparts at the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

“Most importantly, we have restored the credibility and reputation of the Métis National Council both nationally and internationally,” said Caron.

Upon her election, the Manitoba Métis Federation announced it was quitting the national organization over the inclusion of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), whose legitimacy the federation rejects, in its governance.

The MNO was suspended from the MNC in 2020 over concerns that the majority of its registry includes people with no historic ties to the Métis Nation.

The federation “will always have a seat at the table should they wish to come back,” Caron told APTN’s Face to Face upon her election, expressing desire “​​to move forward and continue to be the voice and the one who advocates on behalf of the four Métis governments who still belong to the Métis National Council.”

In her announcement not to seek re-election, Caron said she’s proud of her role in transforming the MNC “into an institution that serves our Métis Governments, just as our original founders intended.”

“While I intend to continue serving in new ways, it is time for me to redirect my dedication to my growing family,” she said. “I am very happy to announce that I am expecting my first child and will soon be helping to bring that next generation of proud Métis into this world.”

Caron added that while she’s early in her pregnancy, she decided to make her announcement well in advance “to ensure an orderly transition” at the MNC.

Caron has been a strong advocate of Bill C-53, a contentious piece of federal legislation that would recognize Métis nations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario as distinct orders of government. That bill has been stalled since it received its second reading in February after a barrage of criticism from Métis organizations excluded from the legislation and First Nations.

She denied her decision not to pursue re-election was related to controversy over C-53.

“The Métis Nation has been fighting for generations, amongst ourselves, with the government of Canada. We are a fighting people,” Caron said. “It has been challenging to find ways to unite Métis people during this time. However, I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to unite our Métis governments, to unite a lot of Métis people through stories and events that have taken place in the last three years.”

She cited the MNC’s role in organizing the Papal visit to Canada in July 2022, which included a stop in Edmonton and Maskwacis, as “one of these really critical moments, where not only Métis people were united but First Nations, Métis and Inuit were united in sharing a goal together.”

Andrea Sandmaier, president of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government in Alberta, described Caron as “a steadfast advocate for our rights, our heritage, and our future, fighting to advance the interests of Métis communities across our Nation.”

“We wish her all the best in starting a family as she embarks on this new and exciting chapter of her life. Becoming a parent is a profound experience, and we know that she will bring the same strength, compassion, and resilience to motherhood that she has demonstrated as a leader,” Sandmaier wrote in a statement.

The next MNC presidential election is scheduled for Sept. 26 in Saskatoon.

(Photo courtesy MNC)