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!