“Inexplicable, undemocratic, illegitimate”: the MNA rejects the UCP on the claims of the Métis of the North for provincial funding

Métis Week in Alberta was initiated by the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) which fought with the UCP government and two northern Métis nations.

In a preemptive move, on November 15, just 30 minutes before Premier Jason Kenney and Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson signed a funding agreement with the Métis Nations of Fort McKay and Willow Lake, the MP posted a press release strongly condemning the Alberta government for getting involved in “a handful of irresponsible, undemocratic and illegitimate organizations.”

The province announced that the Métis Nations of Fort McKay and Willow Lake had received $ 372,000 through the Alberta Indigenous Litigation Fund to launch a constitutional challenge to federal Bill C-48, the moratorium on tankers. It protects a remote area of ​​northern British Columbia — Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Strait and Dixon Entrance — from the risk of a spill by prohibiting tankers from transporting more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil. or certain other types of oil.

Federal legislation, like this one, “makes it more difficult for First Nations and Métis communities to implement long-term economic development projects,” Wilson said in a Twitter post.

The president of the deputy, Audrey Poitras, qualified the financing of “manifest manifestation of public money”.

Poitras accused Kenney of making “a bad decision”. She said the MNA is the “only recognized, accountable and democratically elected government of Métis citizens in Alberta.”

In 2019, the federal government signed Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreements with the MP, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. The agreements “relate to the recognition of Métis competence in the main areas of governance (citizenship, selection of officers and government operations),” according to a press release from the federal government at the time.

The federal government also signed a framework agreement with the Métis Settlement General Council (MSGC) in 2018 to renew a government-to-government relationship. The MSGC is the governing body of the eight Métis settlements in northern Alberta.

Both Kenney and Wilson rejected Poitras’ claims to be the sole voice of the Métis in Alberta.

“We work constructively with Indigenous groups across the province and I don’t think it’s reasonable for someone to say that every Métis community has to come to them for permission to have a point of view. (funding agreement), ”Kenney said.

He also argued that working with the two northern Métis nations did not prevent the province from working with the MP.

Kenney pointed out that Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services partnered with MNA last summer to administer the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines at five Métis clinics across the province.

“We support all Métis people in Alberta…. We have the MNA, we have the Métis settlements, and now we have the Métis groups here. There is not just one group that represents all of the Métis people…. There are several Métis groups, ”Wilson said.

In 2020, Alberta Indigenous Relations granted the Métis of Fort McKay a “credible assertion” of Aboriginal harvesting rights, requiring the industry to consult with the Métis of Fort McKay when natural resource developments are considered in their traditional territory.

The Credible Affirmation Process, updated in December 2019 by the UCP, outlines nine points that, if followed by a Métis organization, commits Alberta to consult with that Métis organization on the management of Crown land. and resource development.

“The difference between us and the Métis Nation of Alberta is that we are Métis rights holders,” said Ron Quintal, President of the Fort McKay Métis Nation. “The rights of Fort McKay have been recognized through a credible affirmation process, which means that we are a recognized Powley community with harvest rights as well as consultation rights. The first community in Alberta history to be able to do this.

He said the Willow Lake Métis Nation was also on the cusp of achieving credible assertion status.

Quintal pointed out that neither Fort McKay nor Willow Lake were members of the MNA.

In fact, these two Métis nations, along with Athabasca Landing, Owl River, Lakeland, Chard and Edmonton, split from the MNA in 2020 to form the Alberta Métis Federation.

In a press release issued Monday by the province in recognition of Métis Week November 14-20, Wilson noted that Alberta has more than 114,000 Métis.

Poitras claims that the MNA represents more than 51,000 registered Métis.

“So I wonder who is the other half?” Said Justin Bourque, Vice President and CEO, Willow Lake Métis Nation. “I can assure you that within the Willow Lake Métis Nation, everyone in our community is a member of the Willow Lake Métis Nation and not a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta. ”

As for the funding provided to the Métis Nations of Fort McKay and Willow Lake by the province for legal action, Poitras said, “The MP will be there to highlight how these individuals and organizations do not represent the Métis of Alberta. The courts will examine the credibility of these allegations. It is unfortunate that the premier of this province has not done so.

Kenney said Poitras was “actually inaccurate” in his claim that this proposed lawsuit would challenge federal legislation that guaranteed Métis consultation on the projects. He suggested that she was confusing Bill C-48 with Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act. In 2020, the province provided $ 187,688 to the Woodland Cree First Nation to intervene in support of the province’s constitutional challenge to this bill.

“There was no consultation and there is no consultation framework in Bill C-48, the moratorium on oil tankers. This violates the constitutional principle of the Crown’s duty to consult, based on the honor of the Crown, and that is why we believe there is a credible legal claim to be made in this case, ”Kenney said.

Quintal’s take on Poitras’ claim was not so charitable.

“I don’t want to comment on the Métis Nation of Alberta because it’s a lot of nonsense. We are already in the midst of a number of disputes with the Métis Nation of Alberta and I don’t think it is appropriate for them to be able to condemn anything when they better look at themselves in the mirror s “They are going to condemn any kind of wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior,” Quintal said.


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