Why is self-government important for the Métis Nation within Alberta?
Self-determination and self-government are inherent rights of all Indigenous people. Prior to Canada’s westward expansion into the Métis Nation Homeland, we governed ourselves in keeping with our own traditions. Collectively, we asserted ourselves as a nation—the Métis Nation. But Canada’s colonial policies and institutions denied our nationhood, uprooted us from our lands, and restricted many of the practices that are fundamental to our Métis culture.
The Métis Nation of Alberta has struggled for decades
to have our right to self-government recognized and respected. By finally achieving this sovereignty, we will regain control over matters directly affecting us and ensure Métis culture flourishes for generations. We will be empowered to remedy the effects of colonialism in our community. The time has come for the full recognition of the Métis Nation within Alberta's right to govern.
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Why does the Métis Nation of Alberta need a constitution?
A constitution is an essential tool for self-government. A constitution acts as a rule book, clearly defining how any government, Aboriginal or otherwise, will operate and what powers it has. When the constitutions of Aboriginal governments are recognized by other levels of government—federal and provincial—they provide the legitimacy and legal tools we need to respond to our citizens’ needs and provide appropriate services. Learn more about constitutions and why it is important for the Métis Nation of Alberta to create and adopt our own.
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Is the idea of a Métis Nation of Alberta constitution new?
No. The Métis Nation has had constitutions in the past, for example, under the provisional governments established by Louis Riel. In the 1930s, the Métis Association of Alberta, a predecessor of the MNA, adopted and was governed by its own constitution. The MNA’s citizens have been asking for a constitution for decades. Going back to the 1980s, numerous reports and studies
produced by the MNA have recommended the Métis in Alberta develop and adopt a constitution. But neither Canada nor Alberta supported these efforts. Now, with Canada’s support, the goal of an MNA constitution is closer than ever.
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Who is leading the negotiations process?
The Métis Nation of Alberta’s (MNA) negotiation team is led by the MNA President and includes senior MNA staff and legal counsel. Direction, however, must come from the MNA’s citizens. Only together can we build a strong Métis Nation embracing Métis rights. To support these negotiations, we continue to undertake extensive, province-wide consultations.
We need to hear from you. Please get in touch
How can I help?
Our inherent right to self-government is a right we hold together. We will only achieve self-government if we work together. Be a part of this historic initiative. Get involved
. The MNA will be organizing outreach events and consulting with citizens across the province. Participate. Your Métis Nation needs you.
To learn more, please get in touch
Why is the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) significant?
The signing of the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) is a major milestone, as it is the first ever self-government agreement between Canada and any Métis government. Previous Canadian governments refused to participate in any meaningful self-government negotiations with the Métis. The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan and Métis Nation of Ontario have signed similar agreements. Now, the MGRSA explicitly recognizes the Métis Nation within Alberta as having an inherent and constitutionally protected right to self-government. The days of denial are behind us.
Why is self-government important for the Métis Nation within Alberta?
Self-determination and self-government are inherent rights of all Indigenous people. Prior to Canada’s westward expansion into the Métis Nation Homeland, we governed ourselves, and had done so for generations. Together, we called ourselves a nation—the Métis Nation—but Canada’s colonial policies and institutions denied our nationhood, uprooted us from our lands, and restricted many practices at the core of our Métis culture. The MNA has fought for decades to have our right to self-government recognized and respected. The MGRSA gives us the legal means to regain control over matters directly affecting us and ensure Métis culture flourishes for generations.
Does the MGRSA take away any of my Métis rights?
No. In the MGRSA, Canada explicitly acknowledges the Métis Nation within Alberta has the inherent and constitutionally protected right to self-government. Nothing in the MGRSA undermines the MNA’s position as the Indigenous government of the Métis Nation within Alberta. The MGRSA sets the roadmap for the MNA to be recognized as a government in federal legislation. It does not change or remove any Métis rights, but rather creates a process allowing the Métis Nation within Alberta to fully exercise its right to self-government and self-determination.
What does the MGRSA do? What difference will it make for the Métis Nation within Alberta?
The MGRSA protects the rights of MNA citizens for generations to come and is a major step towards reconciliation with Canada for the injustices inflicted on the Métis over hundreds of years. It also provides immediate recognition by Canada that the MNA represents the Métis in Alberta and lays out what the MNA must do before the right to self-government is protected by law. These include:
- A constitution ratified by MNA citizens
- The MNA and Canada agreeing to terms outlining their responsibilities to each other, including funding for programs and services to be delivered by the MNA
- How the MNA will transition from its current structure to a government recognized federally
- Creating a set of laws for MNA citizens
Hasn’t the MNA always been a Métis government?
Despite the fact the MNA has always been the governing body for the Métis within Alberta, legally it is a non-profit society under provincial legislation. This non-profit status has never been a good fit and has long frustrated MNA citizens. The MGRSA creates a clear, step-by-step process to transform the MNA from being incorporated as a non-profit society into a Métis government recognized by federal legislation on a true nation-to-nation, government-to-government basis.
Now that the MGRSA has been signed, what are the next steps?
The MGRSA outlines steps the MNA must take to be recognized as a Métis government in federal legislation. These steps are:
- MNA citizens to ratify their constitution
- Canada and the MNA negotiate a fiscal agreement, intergovernmental relations agreement, and transition plan
- The MNA adopts core laws needed to function
The MNA will begin this process by conducting province-wide engagements with its citizens on developing a constitution that works for them.
Why does the Métis Nation of Alberta need a constitution?
A constitution is an essential tool and acts as a rule book, clearly defining how any government, Indigenous or otherwise, will operate and what powers it has. When the constitutions of Indigenous governments are recognized by other levels of government—federal and provincial—it gives them the legitimacy and legal tools to respond to their citizens’ needs and provide appropriate services.
Learn more about constitutions and why it is important for the Métis Nation within Alberta to create and adopt their own: albertametisgov.com/metis-nation-alberta-constitution
Why must Canada pass new legislation?
The legislation implementing the MGRSA will give Canada the legal tools it needs to recognize the MNA as a government with the power to make laws regarding citizenship, leadership, and governmental operations. This legislation will also allow for ongoing negotiations to expand the MNA’s jurisdiction to make laws about matters important to Métis Albertans, including rights, language, culture and heritage, education, housing, environment, land, and social welfare, among other things.
Does this make us a sovereign nation? Will we continue to vote in Canadian elections?
MNA citizens continue to have all the same rights of Canadian citizens, including the right to vote in federal elections. Unlike other Canadians, however, MNA citizens also have recognized rights as citizens of the Métis Nation within Alberta, which include the right to vote and participate in the democratic processes of the MNA. The MGRSA recognizes citizens of the Métis Nation within Alberta as having additional, inherent rights as Indigenous people—including the right to self-government.
What does this mean for our current representative levels of government, e.g. regions and locals?
Developing and adopting a constitution will set out all the basic elements of the government of the Métis Nation within Alberta. These will include government representation at each level to ensure the needs and interests of all Métis Nation citizens are considered. This representation may look like the MNA’s current Provincial, Regional, and Local Councils, or it may not.
MNA citizens will decide, as their new constitution is developed and written before ultimately being ratified by MNA citizens themselves. MNA citizens will be in control of how their government will evolve.
Does my MNA citizenship card now become legal identification?
The Métis Nation of Alberta found, through talks with the Government of Alberta, that our current identification card, which already includes a citizen’s photo, date of birth, and legal name, would need a substantial update to be formally recognized as an acceptable form of identification. An example of some of the required changes include raised tactile identifiers, laser engravings, and proof of residency. The MNA is considering updating MNA citizenship cards, however, this process is separate from our negotiations with Canada.
Will MNA citizens have an opportunity to voice their concerns?
The MNA is planning constitution engagements across the province. We learned a lot from the self-government engagement sessions held in 2018; not only about the values and concerns of citizens, but also about how we can deliver a better workshop and experience.
The goal of these engagements will be developing a constitution for the Métis government in Alberta – together. Following these engagements, there will be a province-wide ratification process. This process will give MNA citizens the leading role.
Has Canada signed similar MGRSAs with other groups?
Yes. Canada has signed MGRSAs with the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Ontario. The MNA is the only representative of Métis in Alberta that has signed a self-government agreement with Canada.
How will the MGRSA affect the eight Métis Settlements and their members?
The MGRSA does not affect the eight Métis Settlements, and it does not change the provincial legislation that created them. The Métis Settlements General Council (MSGC) is engaged in its own negotiations with Canada but, as of Summer 2020, the MSGC and Canada have not signed a self-government agreement.
In negotiating with Canada and implementing our inherent right to self-government, the MNA represents its registered citizens
. Nothing prevents members of the Métis Settlements from registering as MNA citizens, provided they meet the definition of citizenship in the MNA’s current bylaws
. The MNA will represent the needs and interests of all its citizens when negotiating with Canada, whether or not they are Settlement Members. The MGRSA is clear that the MNA is mandated to represent all
citizens of the Métis Nation within Alberta in asserting our inherent right to self-government.
What about other groups claiming to represent “Métis” in Alberta or who have declared “self-government”? How do they affect what the MNA is doing?
By signing the MGRSA, Canada recognized that the MNA is mandated by the Métis Nation within Alberta to implement our inherent right to self-government. The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that Canada is the level of government with constitutional responsibility for the Métis. After a long process of negotiation, Canada and the MNA have established a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship leading to full recognition of our right to self-government in Canadian law.
No other group claiming to speak for the “Métis” in Alberta has been recognized by Canada as representing Métis Nation citizens with a right to self-government, and no such group has signed an agreement that will lead Canada to recognize it as a Métis government. Only the MNA is on track to deliver genuine self-government for the Métis Nation with Alberta.
All individuals who meet the MNA's definition of citizenship are invited to register as MNA citizens
. The MNA is committed to representing the interests of all its citizens. Nothing any other group does will ever change that.
How can I help?
The MNA will be organizing outreach events and consulting with citizens across the province. Please participate. You are the future of the Métis Nation!
To learn more, please get in touch at: albertametisgov.com/get-in-touch
Why did the three Métis Governments meet for the Tri-Council?
The meetings were held to discuss how the three governments could collaborate to advance their goal of self-government and self-determination for the Métis Nation in their respective provinces.
What is the "Joint Declaration" and why was it signed?
The joint declaration is a formal agreement signed by the three government’s presidents to continue working together at the national level. The declaration clarified any misunderstandings about the MGRSAs, which do not limit or change any Métis rights or the Métis people’s inherent right to self-government. We have always and will continue to be self-governing.
It also emphasized signing the MGRSAs has given each Métis government a clear path forward to create a citizen-driven constitution containing all the pieces needed to govern the Métis Nation within their respective provinces.
What was the joint resolution about MNC?
At the first meeting in January, the three governments passed a joint resolution to work together to reform and seek greater accountability of MNC. The resolution states the three governments are the modern-day versions of self-government, created by their citizens, whose voices are heard through democratic elections at the local, regional, and provincial levels.
MNC was created in 1983 to act as a unified, national voice for Métis governments across Canada. The resolution makes clear that MNC is not a government, but a representative of governments, and its power comes from its governing members—Métis Nation British Columbia, Métis Nation of Alberta, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Manitoba Métis Federation, and Métis Nation of Ontario—who are elected by their citizens. It also says MNC cannot interfere with matters falling under the powers of the three governments.
Specifically, the resolution adds that MNC has become increasingly dysfunctional and unaccountable to its governing members and the Métis citizens who elect these Métis governments, including failing to hold a Board of Governors meeting for at least 2 years.
Does this mean the MNA is pulling out from MNC?
No. The MNA, MN-S, and MNO will continue to work through MNC, but will be pursuing either reform, improvement, or change to the structure of the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism, which is an agreement between MNC and the Government of Canada to work together through a nation-to-nation relationship.
What happened in Gatineau, Quebec?
Otipemisiwak: A National Conference on Métis Self-Government was hosted by MNO and was an opportunity for attendees to learn about the sorry legacy of Métis scrip, hear from different First Nations on their journeys toward self-government, listen to a youth panel on their visions for the future, and hear from employees from the Government of Canada on their role and goals going forward with Métis Nation governments.
It was also decided the next Tri-Council meeting would be held in Saskatchewan to discuss details of drafting a constitution.
What happens now?
The MNA is setting its sights on drafting a constitution. A constitution commission has been appointed and will be going out into Métis communities across Alberta to gather feedback from citizens on its development. The constitution will enshrine the Métis Nation within Alberta’s inherent right to govern itself, the responsibilities of the Métis government and its citizens, and protect Métis people for generations to come.