A new federal bill formally recognizing the Metis Nation was introduced by federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister late last month – but not everyone is on board.
The federal government introduced Bill C-53 in the House of Commons in late June, otherwise known as ‘An Act respecting the recognition of certain Metis governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, to give effect to treaties with those governments and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.’
The bill delivers on commitments made in a pair of accords that were co-developed and signed with the Metis governments in February 2023, said federal Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller.
“This bill is a critical step forward in our collaborative work with Metis Nation of Ontario, Metis Nation–Saskatchewan and the Metis Nation of Alberta, to support and recognize their inherent right to self-government,” he said. “These self-government agreements set the foundation for renewed relationships between Canada and each of these Metis governments and will create new opportunities to build a brighter future for their citizens, however they see fit.”
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples national vice-chief Kim Beaudin said the legislation is a ‘smokescreen’ aimed at getting the general public to see the MNC as a representative government when they are placed on the federal reconciliation council.
“I believe that a lot of what the federal government does is a smokescreen and they would like people to believe in the illusion of inclusion. I believe they are setting the public up to buy the MNC, Inuit Taipirit Kanatami and the Assembly of First Nations as elected representative governments, and they are not,” he said.
In the agreements, Canada formally recognizes that each of these Metis Governments are the representative government of distinct Metis collectivities that possess an inherent right to self-government recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982. The federal government also agreed to recognize that each of these Metis governments has jurisdiction in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal administration.
Alberta Metis Nation president Audrey Poitras said despite the opposition from some communities, the legislation has been nearly a hundred years in the making.
“For almost a century, our citizens and Metis communities in Alberta have come together, with the vision of Louis Riel in their hearts, to build the Metis Nation of Alberta as their Metis government,” she said. “With the recent ratification of our Otipemisiwak Metis Government constitution and the formal recognition of our Metis government by Canada, this legislation is vital to putting in place an enduring nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with the federal Crown through a modern-day treaty.”