Archive for February, 2020

The Real Issues Emerging in Northeastern Alberta: Oil Sands Money, Greed and Unaccountable “Métis Community Associations”

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Statement by Métis Nation of Alberta Region One President & Vice-President

James A. Cardinal & Jason Ekeberg

We are issuing the following statement to clarify any confusion there might be in relation to the Métis Nation of Alberta’s (“MNA”) self-government in Northeastern Alberta.

The MNA is the government of the Métis Nation within Alberta.  Over the last 90+ years, our government has been built by our people, for our people.  We have over 42,000 registered MNA citizens, including, over 3,000 living in Northeastern Alberta.  Our citizenship numbers increase monthly.  We are the only province-wide, democratically elected Métis government in Alberta.  We are recognized by other governments as such, as set out in our historic Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (“MGRSA”) with Canada that was signed in July 2019.

Currently, there are a few Métis individuals in MNA Region 1—who could not get elected in the MNA’s democratic ballot box elections—that are now purporting to be speaking for “7 Métis communities” in Northeastern Alberta that “plan to leave the MNA”.  These individuals do not speak for the MNA or the 3,000+ MNA citizens living in Northeastern Alberta.  They are not democratically elected at the ballot box.  They are essentially self-appointed ‘leaders for life’ who bully those who disagree with them. They are propped up by self-interested lawyers, consultants and outsiders.

There are also some MNA Local leaders who do not want to be accountable and transparent through our democratic self-government, so they have formed unaccountable and privately-controlled “Métis Community Associations.” These associations are not a part of the MNA or our self-government. They will never be recognized as legitimate Métis governments because they are not a part of the MNA and they are accountable to no one. 

These “Métis Community Associations” have used the MNA’s name and our legitimacy as a Métis government to negotiate millions of dollars from oil sands developers.  Now, some of these individuals are attempting to transfer the money and assets from our legitimate and democratic MNA Locals to themselves through these “Métis Community Associations.”  This is what underlies these “break away” announcements: oil sands money, greed and a desire to not be accountable to the Métis people.

Let me be clear: the MNA and the leadership of the MNA in Northeastern Alberta will not allow this to happen without a fight.  We will expose these individuals for what they are doing.  Transparency, democracy and accountability will ultimately win.  Here are some facts people and the media need to know:

  1. We are one, large, regional rights-bearing Métis community in Northeastern Alberta. Our citizens may live in different settlements and locations, but we are not different ‘peoples’ or ‘communities’. We have a shared history, language and culture as a part of the Métis Nation within Alberta.  We did not allow Canada to impose an Indian Act Band model of governance on us historically.  We will make sure some self-interested individuals aren’t allowed to do this today.

  2. Each MNA citizen, totaling over 42,000+ across Alberta, exclusively authorize the MNA to represent them as their Métis Nation government. A few individuals sitting in a secret meeting cannot cancel the democratic will of the over 3,000+ MNA citizens living in Northeastern Alberta who have each willingly applied to the MNA for citizenship and mandate it as their government.  The MNA’s leadership is democratically elected at the ballot box.  Thousands vote in our elections every 4 years.  A few don’t get to dictate to the many who are proud citizens of the MNA.

  3. We are currently in the courts fighting against the Fort McKay Métis Community Association who is attempting to dissolve the MNA Fort McKay Local #63 so they can legitimize the taking of that Local’s lands and money. Some other individuals are trying to do the same with the assets of other MNA Locals. We will not let this happen without a fight and exposing people for what they are doing.

  4. The MNA has never—and will never—take 15% from the Impacts and Benefits Agreements negotiated between MNA Locals and industry. This is a misleading statement being advanced by some to justify the creation of unaccountable “Métis Community Associations.”  The MNA-Crown Consultation model ensures those who are most directly impacted are compensated.

  5. For generations, our citzens and assemblies have called on us to move forward on getting to a Constitution that moves us out of our corporate bylaws and the Alberta Societies Act. Our MGRSA sets our pathway forward to achieve our self-government aspirations. The MNA will be having a province-wide referendum to ratify the MGRSA and our new Constitution after it has been developed based on extensive consultations with our citizens. 

  6. Every MNA citizen will get to vote in our referendum on the MGRSA and our new Constitution. A few self-interested people secretly meeting cannot unilaterally cancel the democratic rights and citizenship cards of over 3,000 MNA citizens living in Northeastern Alberta.  Our people will decide our collective path way forward based on our inherent right of self-government and self-determination.  The so called leadership of “Métis Community Associations” will have no role in that process.

As the democratically elected leaders of MNA Region 1, we look forward to the these times ahead.  Throughout this process, the democratic rights and will of the Métis people in Alberta must come first and foremost.  We will continue to fight for democracy, accountability and transparency.  We will also make sure people have facts so they can make informed choices about the collective future of the Métis Nation!

MÉTIS NATION OF ALBERTA APPALLED BY ALBERTA DECISION ON MÉTIS CONSULTATION “IT’S A BREACH OF THE HONOUR OF THE CROWN”

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Edmonton, AB – February 13, 2020

 

The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is shocked and appalled to learn that the Government of Alberta has decided to conduct Crown consultations with the Fort McKay Métis Community Association (FMMCA) as the purported representative of a rights-bearing Métis community. The FMMCA is not a Métis government, and it does not represent a rights-bearing Métis community.

The FMMCA only exists to serve a small number of self-interested individuals. The MNA, as the recognized Indigenous government of the Métis Nation within Alberta, is reviewing every available option to challenge Alberta’s decision.

“We will not allow the Alberta Government to unilaterally divide the Métis Nation for its own agenda.  The MNA is the government for the Métis Nation within Alberta.  We will not let governments divide and conquer our Nation.  What is happening in British Columbia right now demonstrates that governments must engage with the legitimate governments of Indigenous peoples, not others,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras.

Alberta refers to its approach to decisions regarding Métis consultation as the “credible assertion” process. The process is deeply flawed. Any group claiming to represent Métis people in the province for the purpose of consultation can apply, even undemocratic and unaccountable organizations like the FMMCA.   

Alberta’s process has been in place for over a decade and, to date, Alberta had never determined that any Métis group was owed a duty to consult. This amounted to an unjustifiable failure on the province’s part to discharge its constitutional duties to the Métis Nation within Alberta.

Even the province acknowledged that the credible assertion process is flawed. Alberta agreed to negotiate with the MNA to develop a Métis consultation policy to replace it. These negotiations went on for years and were productive. Last September, however, Alberta walked away from the table. The promise of a meaningful Métis consultation policy was broken.

“Alberta’s decision to recognize the FMMCA as the representative of a rights-bearing Métis community for the purposes of consultation highlights just how broken Alberta’s system is,” said Métis lawyer Jason Madden who has represented rights-bearing Métis communities in the courts from Ontario westward and its recognized as a leading expert in Métis law.

“This decision cannot be reconciled with repeated Supreme Court of Canada and Alberta court decisions on Métis rights or Alberta’s constitutional duties owing to the Métis. It will not discharge the Crown’s duty to consult, and it will not provide regulatory certainty.  Alberta has just opened a can of worms for short term gain, but it will have long-term negative consequences for Métis rights.”

The FMMCA cannot represent a rights-bearing Métis community. The courts have been clear: rights-bearing Métis communities are large and regional. Even Alberta recognizes this: the province recognizes a regional, rights-bearing Métis community spanning all of northeastern Alberta throughout which Métis community members can hunt, fish, and trap to feed their families. This is the community the Crown owes a duty to consult. The FMMCA, in contrast, represents a few dozen people, some living in the hamlet of Fort McKay, some not living in northeastern Alberta at all.

The MNA is the government of the Métis Nation within Alberta.  For over 90 years, our government has been built by our people, for our people. The MNA has the only objectively verifiable registry of Métis Nation citizens and legitimate Métis rights-holders in Alberta.  We have over 42,000 registered MNA citizens, including over 3,000 living in northeastern Alberta.   Every four years, we hold province-wide democratic elections. Annually, our citizens gather at an assembly to give their leadership direction. This is how the MNA ensure it is accountable to the Métis citizens from across the province.

“The FMMCA is accountable to no one. It is a privately incorporated entity beyond the scrutiny of the larger Métis population,” explained MNA Region 1 President Jimmy Cardinal, who was elected by the over 3000 Métis citizens living in northeastern Alberta. “The FMMCA’s purpose is to hide assets that properly belong to the MNA Local in Fort McKay, the true representative of Métis in the area. I am very disappointed that Alberta does not see the FMMCA for what it really is.”

The FMMCA’s President, Ron Quintal, ran for the MNA presidency in 2018 and lost. He ended up at the FMMCA because the Métis in the province at large do not support him. Just last year, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench rejected the Fort McKay Métis Community Association’s attempt to stop the MNA from engaging with the Crown and industry on consultation and accommodation issues. The FMMCA is a disgruntled splinter group, not the legitimate representative of aboriginal rights holders.

In July 2019, the MNA signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) with Canada, the level of government recognized in the Daniels case as having constitutional responsibility to engage in government-to-government negotiations with Indigenous peoples. The MGRSA provided the MNA with immediate recognition of our right to self-government here in Alberta. It also sets out a clear process to finally have our self-government recognized on our own terms.

“The MNA is developing a constitution to serve as the foundation for the legitimate Indigenous self-government of the Métis Nation within Alberta. This constitution will be subject to extensive consultations and a province wide referendum. That is how recognition ought to proceed: democratically and transparently. We are committed to that process.”

President Poitras concluded, “We will only get reconciliation right if we get recognition.  Alberta’s decision gets recognition all wrong, and it is the Métis citizens in the province who will suffer. We are reviewing every available option to challenge Alberta’s decision.”

 

For more information or interviews contact:

 

Mackenzie Jaklin-Graham

Media Profile

Mackenzie.Jaklin-Graham@mediaprofile.com

(289)-314-0003

A Letter to Métis Nation Citizens

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Dear Métis Nation of Alberta Citizens,

I am writing to you because the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has been receiving many questions and comments about recent statements and press releases issued in the name of the Métis National Council (MNC).

 

You should be aware that the MNC is now almost solely controlled by the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) with periodic appearances by MNC National President Clem Chartier (who claims to have “stepped aside”). The MNC Board of Governors have not met in over 14 months. The MNA currently has no input or advance notice in relation to MNC activities and announcements.

 

While the MNC exclusion of the majority of the Métis Nation Governments that mandate it is the new normal, the MNC’s recent statements on Métis Nation Identity, Citizenship and Homeland are particularly troubling and inaccurate. This letter and accompanying information is intended to directly address these issues.

 

I want Alberta Métis to know that others will not be allowed to make decisions or impose their positions on the democratic will of the Métis Nation within Alberta. The MNA is your Métis Nation government here in Alberta. Your ancestors built our government: community meeting by community meeting; assembly by assembly; election by election.

 

Today, the MNA has the largest and most credible Métis Nation Registry within Canada with over 42,000 registered citizens, and those numbers continue to grow weekly. In July 2019, we signed our Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) with Canada that provided us with immediate recognition of our right to self-government here in Alberta. The MGRSA also sets out a clear process to finally have our self-government recognized on our own terms.

 

Self-determination and self-government has always been our goal for the Métis Nation within Alberta, and MGRSA recognizes this right and sets out a path for us to get there. For generations, our assemblies have called for us to develop our own Constitution instead of continuing to rely on corporate bylaws. We now have even more of a reason to finally get this done.

 

Ultimately, our Constitution will be developed following extensive consultation with our citizens. It will then be adopted by a province-wide referendum where all of our citizens will have the opportunity to vote on it, not just a select few. All of our citizens will get to decide our collective future, not just 55 people meeting at a MNC meeting. Unlike others, I am not afraid of letting all of our citizens having their voices heard.

 

In the coming weeks and months, there will be MNC organized meetings where some unelected and hand-picked individuals, including those who have created unaccountable “Métis Community Associations” will say they speak for the Métis Nation within Alberta and our 42,000+ citizens. They do not. Every four years, we, as MNA citizens, hold democratic elections. This holds the MNA accountable as your government. Every year, we, as MNA citizens, gather at our assembly. This holds the MNA accountable as your government.

 

This small number of self-interested Métis individuals, encouraged, and likely, financially supported by the MNC, are accountable to no one. Some have or are trying to transfer land and assets from MNA Locals to their own personal control through “Métis Community Associations.” These individuals are also being used by the MNC in an attempt to derail and delay our self-government negotiations here in Alberta, since we are now further ahead on these talks than other MNC Governing Members.

 

This ongoing MNC campaign of misinformation cannot be left unaddressed, so I am responding to the falsehoods in its statements and press releases – in detail – in the attached fact sheet. In the upcoming months, I will not be engaging in a back-and-forth through dueling press release and media statements, but I will continue to communicate with those who I am accountable to: Métis Nation citizens here in Alberta.

 

Let me be clear: our goal remains self-determination for the Métis Nation within Alberta based on a Constitution that is developed by, and approved through a province-wide referendum of our citizens. We will not let other governments, including other Métis Nation governments or the MNC, get in the way of what our ancestors and citizens – here in Alberta – have fought for and sought for generations.

 

By working together and staying united, we can achieve the MNA’s long-standing goal: building a strong Métis Nation based on Métis rights!

 

Yours very truly,


Audrey Poitras
MNA President

Download the full letter and fact sheet package.