This year, Alberta Chamber of Resources (ACR) selected Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras as the Indigenous Leader of the Year. The award is designed to honour indigenous leaders dedicated to advancing the cause of their people while building bridges with the resource sector. At this year’s Alberta Chamber of Resources banquet, held on February 3, 2017, President Poitras’ lifelong dedication to Métis causes was recognized. Regarding the award, President Poitras commented, “with all the important work First Nation and Métis leaders are doing throughout the province to support their communities, I am truly honoured to be chosen as Alberta Chamber of Resources’ indigenous leader of the year.”
As the longest serving President of MNA, Audrey Poitras was first elected to leadership in 1996. For over two decades, President Poitras has been a passionate advocate for Métis rights and programs. Her leadership choice to emphasize the importance of rights and education has aided the growth of Métis communities throughout the province. Along with key stakeholders, President Poitras has negotiated partnerships with colleges and universities, ensuring Métis Endowment funds of 22 million to date. Over her time as MNA President, she has facilitated the creation of MNA’s Rupertsland Institute, Métis Centre of Excellence, which promotes education, training, and research. These programs have enriched the lives of countless Métis people across Alberta.
With the help of the recent Supreme Court of Canada’s Daniels Decision, President Poitras continues to negotiate landmark political agreements. Earlier this year, President Poitras negotiated the first ever Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Canada and the most comprehensive Provincial Framework Agreement in MNA history. With these federal and provincial agreements, President Poitras has additionally participated in promising discussions with governments about Métis harvesting rights and a Métis Nation Health Clinic.
As an ardent supporter of Métis culture, history, and language, President Poitras played a critical role in the development of Métis Crossing, a multi-million dollar cultural interpretive site, atop the banks of the North Saskatchewan River near Smoky Lake, Alberta. Following a funding pledge from the Federal Government in 2016, Métis Crossing is poised to become Alberta’s premiere Métis cultural centre.
Throughout her leadership, President Poitras has been honoured with numerous awards and recognitions, including receiving the National Indigenous Achievement Award, being named in CBC’s The Alberta 100, and Alberta’s 50 most influential people by Alberta Venture magazine in 2005.