Current Affairs

Métis Crossing Wins Entrepreneurship Challenge Award

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Métis Crossing—the Métis heritage site near Smoky Lake owned and operated by Métis Nation of Alberta—recently won an award for their entrepreneurial spirit. The award was granted by the Growing Rural Tourism Conference on February 14, 2017. The $6,000 dollar award will go toward funding the Métis Crossing Voyageur Experience Program in which travelers can experience the life of a Métis voyageur during the 19th century fur trade era. The experience will be made possible through strategic partnerships with Haskin Canoes and Victoria Settlement. 

Participants involved in the experience will be offered comfort camping, spending the nights under starry skies in an authentic Métis trapper’s tent. Home-cooked meals consisting of bannock, berries, and other ingredients procured from the land will be provided for breakfast and lunch. A traditional fish fry with all the fixings will be served for dinner. In the morning, partakers will visit a Métis trap line and learn about living off the land, including making and tasting locally foraged teas. Participants will additionally explore the river valley to learn about local wildlife and medicinal plants and trees. In the afternoon, participants will undertake a canoe voyage to Fort Victoria to experience life at the early Settlement when it was founded in 1860 and learn about commerce and trade during the mid-1800s fur trade era. The experience will conclude with a return trip to Métis Crossing where participants will partake in Métis jigging lessons and learn the famous Métis dance number, The Red River Jig.

A pilot run of the camp takes place on May 24, 2017. On this day, a group of approximately 40 educators will visit Métis Crossing to experience life as a Métis voyageur in 19th century Alberta. The project is currently in the preliminary stages, however, MNA will be providing further details about how to get involved going into the future.    

 

MNA President Audrey Poitras Recognized for Outstanding Leadership

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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.

Memorandum re: Summaries on Recent Court Cases on Métis Consultation

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Today, MNA President Audrey Poitras released a memorandum pertaining to recent Alberta court cases on Métis consultation. Please scroll down to read more about these cases. PDF summary documents were provided by MNA legal counsel, Pape Salter Teillet. To download the documents, please click the below links. 

File Downloads:

 

Memorandum 

TO: All MNA Members
FROM: Audrey Poitras, MNA President
DATE: March 7, 2017
RE: Summaries on Recent Court Cases on Métis Consultation

In December 2016, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench released two decisions dealing with Métis consultation issues. As we have always done when important cases dealing with Métis rights are released by the courts, the MNA asked its legal counsel to prepare summaries on these two cases to share with members. These two summaries are attached to this memo and are also available on the MNA website at: www.albertametis.com.

It is important to note that neither the MNA or MNA Region 1 were involved in these two court cases. These cases were solely advanced by the Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray Locals. In particular, in the Fort Chipewyan case, the Local advanced an argument that it was a rights-bearing Métis community and that it was owed Crown consultation. As outlined in the attached summary, the court rejected those arguments based on the facts in that case.

Overall, these two court cases re-affirm the need for the MNA, its Regions and its Locals to work—together—to ensure our collectively-held Métis rights are respected and protected throughout Alberta. It is very clear from the court’s decision that all three levels of Métis government must arrive at a mutually agreeable way forward to effectively deal with Crown-Métis consultation issues. MNA Locals cannot do it alone, any more than one Regional Council or the Provincial Council could unilaterally dictate or impose an approach.

Simply put, we must work—together—to develop and implement consensus-based solutions or we run the risk of governments using our internal divisions against us as a way to continue to deny rights-based Métis consultation in Alberta. With that said, I believe we are well placed to make consensus-based progress over the next few months in implementing our Statement of Principles for Métis Consultation and Accommodation, which were adopted by the 2016 MNA Annual General Assembly. In the interim, I wanted to provide these case summaries, which will need to inform our strategies and approaches going forward.

If you have any questions about the attached summaries or would like more information on the status of the MNA’s ongoing work in relation to consultation issues as well as our discussions with Alberta, please contact the MNA’s Co- Ministers for Métis Rights (Karen Collins or Bev New) or Bruce Gladue, the MNA’s Director of Sustainable Development and Industry Relations, through the MNA Head Office in Edmonton.

I am optimistic that—together—we will be able to make progress on this important Métis rights-related work over the next few months!

 

MNA President Pleased about Federal Funding for Fort Edmonton Indigenous Peoples Experience

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Today, Métis Nation of Alberta President (MNA), Audrey Poitras, and dignitaries from all levels of government joined the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, for an important announcement regarding federal funding that will expand the historical living museum, Fort Edmonton Park. Participating dignitaries included the Honourable Brian Mason, Minister of Infrastructure; His Worship Don Iveson, Mayor of the City of Edmonton; Lyndon Decore, Chair of the Fort Edmonton Foundation; Bill Demchuk, Executive Director of the Fort Edmonton Management Company; and Chief Billy Morin, Chief of Enoch Cree Nation.

The Government of Canada pledged up to $47,794,500 for the expansion of Fort Edmonton Park, which includes the Indigenous Peoples Experience. Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, states that the “funding will support Fort Edmonton Park in celebrating this city—and Canada’s—diverse heritage and creativity, including the experiences of local First Nations and Métis people.” Métis people have a rich heritage in the Edmonton region and have played a significant role in the development of the city as intrepid entrepreneurs, fur traders, merchants, craftsman, voyageurs, and diplomatic intermediaries. The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) is optimistic that the increased funding for the program will help showcase the distinct Métis culture.

MNA President Audrey Poitras said, “in the past few years, Métis Nation of Alberta has been greatly encouraged by the efforts of Fort Edmonton and the City of Edmonton in ensuring the gaps in their representations of Métis history is filled with accurate and comprehensive information. With this new commitment from the federal government, I am positive that the park will become a very important site in facilitating understanding about Métis culture and the history of Fort Edmonton.”

The Fort Edmonton Park expansion has a total estimated cost of $165,353,500. In addition to federal funding, the park expansion is being financially bolstered by the Government of Alberta, City of Edmonton, and Fort Edmonton Foundation. On behalf of the Provincial government, The Honourable Brian Mason states “The Alberta government is proud to support this project, which will honour our past and entertain and educate generations to come.” His Worship Don Iveson feels that the strong commitment from leadership across governments will “allow [Edmonton] to move a project forward that honours Edmonton’s past, present, and future, including our journey in reconciliation.”

The project will focus on three key sections of the park: an expansion of the Indigenous Peoples Experience, encompassing a new facility to showcase the First Nations and Métis Nation cultural heritage, along with camps, trails, classrooms, and an outdoor amphitheater. The 1920’s Johnny J Jones Midway will add several new attractions including a roller coaster, a maze and a revue theatre. Finally, a new front admission area will allow for improved visitor services and shopping opportunities. Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2017 with completion by 2020. Executive Director of the Fort Edmonton Management Company, Bill Demchuk, is very pleased with the funding, asserting “With the generous support of the federal government, as well as the Province and the City, we are thrilled to be able to enrich the visitor experience at Fort Edmonton Park and continue to celebrate our shared past.”

Media Contact:
Sonia Millman, Executive Assistant to the MNA President
Phone: 780-455-2200 ext. 281
Email: smillman@metis.org 

Memorandum re: Recent Agreements with Canada and Alberta

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Today, Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras released a memorandum regarding the recent agreements with Canada and Alberta. To download the PDF memorandum, Please click hereThe memorandum full text is also available in the post below. Please scroll down for more information. 

To access the complete Métis Nation of Alberta-Government of Alberta Framework Agreement, please click here.


TO: All Members

FROM: Audrey Poitras, MNA President
DATE: February 27, 2017
RE: Recent Agreements with Canada and Alberta

As many of you have likely already heard, the Métis Nation of Alberta (“MNA”) has recently signed two important agreements with both the federal and provincial governments.  Both of these agreements are now publicly available and can be found on the MNA’s website at www.albertametis.com.  Copies of these agreements can also be obtained by contacting the MNA Head Office or our Regional Offices throughout the province.

These two agreements consolidate many of the positive developments we have been making politically here in Alberta as well as at the federal level in over the last year or so.  These agreements also begin to strategically put the pieces into place to meaningfully implement our historic victory in the Harry Daniels case from April 2016 (the “Daniels Case”) as well as the recommendations of Mr. Tom Isaac, Canada’s Ministerial Special Representative on Métis Section 35 Rights, whose report was released in July 2016 (the “Isaac Report”).

In the upcoming months, the MNA will be initiating province-wide community consultations to update members on these agreements as well as to talk about our priorities for future negotiations with both Canada and Alberta.  In the meantime, I wanted to provide this update to highlight some important aspects of these agreements as well as outline how they fit together and complement each other.  As I stated at the signing of these two agreements, the “stars are aligning for Alberta Métis” to make some significant advances on our rights-based agenda in the near future.

From the positive relationships we have built with Premier Notley and her government, including the commitment in our new Framework Agreement to finally begin work with us on a nation-to-nation basis, to Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to finally put into place the nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship the Métis Nation has sought with Canada for generations, I believe we have the wind at our backs and we must seize upon the once-in-a-generation opportunities that are before us.

 

MNA-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Reconciliation

This first agreement—the MNA-Canada MOU on Reconciliation—establishes a bilateral exploratory discussions process between ourselves and Canada in order to see if we can reach a formal Framework Agreement for negotiations on Métis rights and claims in Alberta by September 2017.  This is a momentous development for Alberta Métis!

Exploratory discussion processes are an important step in Canada’s six stage Indigenous “claims” resolution processes.  In the past, Métis south of the 60th parallel were completely excluded from these types of federal negotiation processes. Clearly, the direction from the Daniels Case and the Isaac Report; namely, that Métis can no longer be on the outside looking in at the federal level, is slowly taking hold.  For more information on the MOU and answers to frequently asked questions visit: http://albertametis.com/2017/01/20612/.

As set out in the MOU, these exploratory discussions will be focused on dealing with our Aboriginal rights and outstanding claims here in Alberta.  More specifically, this process will include rights-based discussions on Métis self-government, Métis lands and redressing the failings of the federal Métis scrip system.  We will also be talking about how to address the inequities our children, families and communities face because of discriminatory and colonial federal policies.

As I previously mentioned, in order to fully develop and prioritize subject matters for future negotiations, we will be undertaking province-wide consultations in the upcoming months.  We want to hear from all of our members on what are the key issues we should incorporate into any future Framework Agreement with Canada.  Rather than being stuck with a top-down national agenda, these exploratory discussions allow us to craft a ‘made-in-Alberta’ approach.   

Related to this, it is also important to note that the Prime Minister’s commitment to working with the Métis Nation on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship will be through bilateral negotiations with the MNA—not through any national process.  Specifically, the MOU states,

AND WHEREAS Canada is committed to working, on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government basis with the Métis Nation, through bilateral negotiations with the MNA, in order to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship through cooperation, respect for Métis rights, and ending the status quo; [Emphasis added.]

This aspect of the MOU is consistent with the recent direction received from the 2016 MNA Annual General Assembly, which added the following important objective to the MNA Bylaws:

[for the MNA] to negotiate, on behalf of the Métis in Alberta, a modern day treaty relationship with the Crown through a “land claims agreement” or other arrangement as called for and contemplated within the meaning of section 35(3) of the Constitution Act, 1982.” 

While we have much more work to do and a long road ahead of us, this MOU puts us on the right track.  I look forward to our upcoming community consultation to provide further updates on what is happening at the federal level.

 

MNA-Alberta Framework Agreement   

For over 30 years, our various MNA-Alberta Framework Agreements have guided our relationship with the province.  Over these decades, we have seen many gains and successes by working collaboratively with the province.  Our Framework Agreement provides the foundation for our relationship with Alberta.

It is a well-known fact that the last version of our Framework Agreement was whittled down by the previous provincial government with respect to language that recognized the Métis Nation and the MNA’s representative role.  While this was disappointing, we persevered and tried to make the most out of what was a challenging period of MNA-Alberta relations.

With that era behind us, I am very pleased that our new Framework Agreement goes further than any of our previous agreements with Alberta.  This is a testament to the commitment of Premier Notley and Minister Feehan to building relationships.  As I have often said, I believe that if we get the recognition and relationship right, we will be able to make things happen. This agreement sets the course for us to finally get that foundation right.

Notably, this agreement also includes the following important additions:

  • The agreement is between the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Government of Alberta.  Previous versions of the agreement constantly added “Association” to our name in order to diminish the reality that we represent a distinct Indigenous people—the Métis. 
  • The agreement includes explicit commitments to pursue discussions on key rights-related issues such as harvesting and a Métis consultation policy.  The success of this Framework Agreement will be measured on progress being made on these commitments.
  • The agreement is for a 10 year period.  In the past, the re-negotiation of the agreement every 3 or 5 years were distractions to keeping momentum under the agreement going.

Most importantly, the agreement commits to working with us on a “nation-to-nation” basis to advance Métis rights and reconciliation.  Specifically, the Agreement states,

AND WHEREAS Alberta recognizes the MNA’s representative role on behalf of its Citizens and is committed to working with the MNA, on a nation-to-nation basis, through this Framework Agreement, in order to advance reconciliation and enhance the MNA-Alberta relationship through recognition, collaboration, respect for Métis rights and working towards the advancement of Métis self-government and self-determination;

Flowing from this overall intent, the agreement explicitly commits to “discussing options for the legislative recognition of the MNA and its governance structures.”  As noted above, for far too often, the fact that our Nation’s legal and administrative arm is incorporated as an ‘association’ under Alberta’s Societies Act has been used against us to diminish the fact that we are a government for Alberta Métis. This commitment will allow us to explore other options with Alberta.

The agreement also commits Alberta to engage with us and Canada on the “implications of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Daniels v. Canada for Alberta Métis.”  We see this commitment as ensuring that Alberta will participate in our discussions with Canada, where required.  It is important to note that while the Daniels Case affirms Métis are within federal jurisdiction, the province was and remains a key partner in making progress on some of our rights-related issues, in particular dealing with lands.

In closing, I want to thank the MNA Provincial Council, including our Co-Ministers for Métis Rights (Karen Collins and Bev New) as well as MNA staff and legal counsel for getting us here.  Now the hard work begins!  Ultimately, these two agreements will be measured by what they achieve for our children, families and communities here in Alberta. I am confident that through hard work and determination, we will see real results from these agreements for Alberta Métis.

 

Click here to download the PDF memorandum. 

Memorandum: MNA Statement on the current Government of Alberta Métis Harvesting Policy

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To: MNA Members – Harvesters
CC: Members of the Provincial Council of the Métis Nation of Alberta
From: Karen Collins and Bev New; Co-Ministers of Métis Rights and Accommodation
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017

The current Government of Alberta Métis Harvesting Policy was adopted unilaterally by the Government of Alberta (GoA) in 2007 to replace the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement which had been mutually negotiated between the GoA and MNA. This policy was later amended in 2010, again without the involvement of the MNA. 

For certainty, the MNA does not support the GoA Harvesting policy.

In the meantime, the MNA is actively negotiating with the GoA to develop an agreement on harvesting that is consistent with the law and relevant to the Métis communities in Alberta. We ask for your patience and continued trust to allow for the time needed to finalize a Harvesting agreement for all Métis in Alberta.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact Tyler Fetch at tfetch@metis.org or 780-455-2200.

Download the printer-friendly PDF Memorandum here

 

4th Annual Provincial Business Mixer

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The Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) Sustainable Development and Industry Relations (SDIR) Team is thrilled to announce our 4th Annual Provincial Business Mixer to take place on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre at 11834 Kingsway Ave NW in Edmonton, AB.
 
Business mixer admission is 
free to MNA members!
 
Seminar: 9 am – 11:30 am 
Trade Show ($250 Table): 1 pm – 5 pm
Banquet ($65 per person or $500 Table): 6 pm
Sponsorship Opportunities Available 
 
Sponsorship Deadline: 
Feb. 28, 2017 
Trade Show Booth Deadline:
March 3, 2017
 
RSVP: 
Katie Suvanto 
ksuvanto@metis.org 
780-341-1447 
 
Click here to download the PDF poster file. 
 

Métis Seniors and Youth Symposium

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All are welcome to join Métis Nation of Alberta for a Métis Seniors and Youth Symposium from March 23 – March 24. Details are posted below! 

Friday, March 24, 2017: 5:00 pm
Bannock-Making & Stew at MNA Office
Métis Nation of Alberta Provincial Office
#100-11738 Kingsway Ave
Edmonton, AB, T5G 0X5 

Saturday, March 25, 2017: 7:30 AM
Symposium at Ramada
Ramada Hotel & Conference Center 
11834 Kingsway NW
Edmonton, AB, T5G 3J5

Join Métis Nation of Alberta for a weekend of building relationships across generations! Starting Friday, March 24 at 5:00 pm, MNA head office will serve stew and bannock, while offering some bannock making tips. On Saturday, March 25, at the Ramada Conference Center, located at 11834 Kingsway NW, MNA will host a symposium that will include presentations on Métis rights, dinner, open mic jam, jigging lessons, photo booth with props, and much more!

For those looking for help with taxes, MNA encourages you to bring your tax information, as there will be a third party present to assist. In hopes of establishing a definition of “Métis Elder,” MNA also encourages attendees to bring their definition of an elder for our consideration.

Attendees must RSVP to Christine Dyck at cdyck@metis.org, or by calling 780-455-2200. 

Click here to download the PDF poster!  

Federal Navigation Protection Act & Fisheries Act Survey

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We are currently asking our members to fill out an online survey that will help inform a report designed to increase the respect and rights of Indigenous people. This online questionnaire has been created to collect the opinions, feedback, and suggestions of Métis Nation of Alberta members regarding the federal reviews of both the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act. The information gathered from the questionnaire will be reviewed and compiled as part of a report that will be submitted to the Government of Canada. The report will be used to guide the implementation of changes to legislation and assessment processes that will better protect the environment and respect the rights of Indigenous people.

Find the survey at Alberta Métis Survey.

For more information, contact Theo Peters at (780) 455-2200 or tpeters@metis.org. 

Recruiting for Alberta Native Provincials

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Métis Nation of Alberta is now accepting applications for our 2017 -2018 Initiation Hockey Team, playing in the Alberta Native Provincials tournament. Children born in the years 2010, 2011, and 2012 are welcome to register. Donning red and blue jerseys emblazoned with a bold infinity symbol, the pint-sized Métis team last year delivered an out-sized performance as they skated to victory at each and every game. Native Provincials is a hockey tournament for Aboriginal youth that takes place each spring.

To register with the team, contact Marilyn Lizee at mlizee@metis.org. Registries are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. 

Important Notice

Due to a change in policy with Alberta Native Provincials, they will no longer be accepting letters for hockey players entering into this tournament.  The MNA has been advised that our Métis ID cards will be the only form of identification they will accept when registering players.

Métis Nation of Alberta strongly encourages parents, guardians, and caregivers to ensure our Métis youth receive their MNA membership. For assistance or more information, please contact the MNA Registry Department at (780) 455-2200, or at registry@metis.org.