WHAT ARE MÉTIS RIGHTS?

Métis rights are classified into two categories:

  1. Land and Resource Rights
  2. Self-Governing Rights

The Métis have fought on the battlefield, in the courts, and government meeting rooms to have our rights recognized for generations. We desire greater control over our lives within Canada, just as we had in the 1869 and 1885 resistance struggles.

This section provides current and historical information about Métis rights, including rights to harvesting, land claims, and consultation. Updates on current Métis rights can be found on the News page, while past publications on Métis rights are filed under Archived Métis Rights Publications page. Publications released after 2016 can be found in the Resources tab.

MÉTIS LAW IN CANADA

To date, the Métis Nation has succeeded in bringing three cases forward to the Supreme Court: Daniels vs. Canada (2016), R. vs. Powley (2003), and The Manitoba Métis Federation vs. Canada (2013).

Indigenous rights lawyer, Jean Teillet, has provided a comprehensive overview of Métis case law in Canada in her report titled Métis Law in Canada [pdf], which was first published in 1999.

Métis Law in Canada, is the only comprehensive analysis of all modern Canadian Métis case law.

Métis Rights FAQs

Have a question? Read on for answers about Métis rights in Alberta.

All FAQs

How do I learn more about Métis self-government in Alberta?

The Métis Nation within Alberta has a long history of organizing and political participation. Since the end of the 19th century, Métis in Alberta have stood together and pressed governments to respect our Métis rights and treat our claims fairly. Learn more about this ongoing fight and the milestones we’ve reached on our Self-Government website.

Why does the Métis Nation of Alberta need a constitution?

A constitution is an essential tool for self-government. A constitution acts as a rule book, clearly defining how any government, Aboriginal or otherwise, will operate and what powers it has. When the constitutions of Aboriginal governments are recognized by other levels of government—federal and provincial—they provide the legitimacy and legal tools we need to respond to our citizens’ needs and provide appropriate services. Learn more about constitutions and why it is important for the Métis Nation of Alberta to create and adopt our own.

Why is self-government important for the Métis Nation within Alberta?

Self-determination and self-government are inherent rights of all Indigenous people. Prior to Canada’s westward expansion into the Métis Nation Homeland, we governed ourselves in keeping with our own traditions. Collectively, we asserted ourselves as a nation—the Métis Nation. But Canada’s colonial policies and institutions denied our nationhood, uprooted us from our lands, and restricted many of the practices that are fundamental to our Métis culture. The Métis Nation of Alberta has struggled for decades to have our right to self-government recognized and respected. By finally achieving this sovereignty, we will regain control over matters directly affecting us and ensure Métis culture flourishes for generations. We will be empowered to remedy the effects of colonialism in our community. The time has come for the full recognition of the Métis Nation within Alberta’s right to govern. Learn more.

How do I register as a Métis citizen?

In addition to meeting the National definition of Métis,
you must also submit the following documents:

  1. Family Tree
  2. Birth Certificate
  3. Identification
  4. Proof of Residency

Find the application form here.

What is the National definition of Métis?

Definition: “Métis means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation”

Historical Proof: refers to evidence of an ancestor who received a land grant or a scrip granted under the Manitoba Act or the Dominion Lands Act, or who was recognized as Métis in other government, church or community records.

Historic Métis Nation: refers to the Aboriginal people then known as Métis or half-breeds who resided in the Historic Métis Nation Homeland.

Historic Métis Nation Homeland: the area of land in west-central North America used and occupied as the traditional territory of the Métis or Half-breeds as they were then known.

Métis Nation: means Aboriginal people descended from the Historic Métis Nation, which is now comprised of all Métis Nation peoples and is one of the “aboriginal peoples of Canada” within the meaning of s.35 of the Constitution Act 1982.

Distinct from other Aboriginal peoples: means distinct for cultural and nationhood purpose.

If I am a Settlement member can I also apply for an MNA card?

Anyone who is a resident of Alberta can apply. This includes Settlement members.

Where am I able to harvest?

Through your application process, you will have to show historical (pre-1900s) and contemporary connection to a defined Métis Harvesting Area. Please click here to see the Métis Harvesting Area maps:

  1. Harvesting Area Mosaic
  2. Harvesting Area A
  3. Harvesting Area B
  4. Harvesting Area C
  5. Harvesting Area D
  6. All Harvesting Areas

When can I start harvesting?

The effective date for Alberta’s new Métis harvesting policy will be September 1, 2019. The MNA staff are working hard to make sure we have the systems, processes, and people in place to have this happen.

The actual date of being able to harvest will depend on successfully completing the applications process and receiving your Métis Harvester Identification Sticker.

Where do I find the Métis Harvesting in Alberta Policy?

The policy can be viewed here.

If you have questions not listed in the FAQs section, please contact Craig Letendre by email at cletendre@metis.org

When can I apply for my Métis Harvester Identification Card?

The effective date for this new system started on September 1, 2019. You can apply now for you harvesting card.

How long is the Métis Harvester Identification Card valid?

The Métis Harvester Identification Card is valid for the life of the Métis citizen.

I am not currently a citizen of the MNA, what does the harvesting policy mean for me?

This Métis Harvesting Agreement only applies to citizens of the Métis Nation of Alberta. If you self-identify as Métis and have historical Métis ancestry, you can apply to become an MNA citizen.

What if I already applied for a Harvester Identification Card but am waiting for my MNA citizenship card?

Until each current applicant is accepted as an MNA citizen, the MNA cannot process your application to be identified as a Métis Harvester under the Métis Harvesting Agreement. You will have to apply for your Métis Harvester Identification Sticker after receiving your MNA citizenship card.

How long is my harvesting letter from the Government of Alberta valid?

All questions regarding Alberta’s harvesting letters should be directed to the Government of Alberta.

If I have a harvesting letter from the Government of Alberta, do I pre-qualify for the Métis Harvester Identification Card?

No. You will have to apply for a Métis Harvester Identification Card with the MNA.

What if I live on a Métis Settlement, but I am not a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta?

This implementation process relates only to the citizens of the Métis Nation of Alberta. You will need to contact the Métis Settlement General Council to find out about their process or contact the Government of Alberta.

Is there a limit to the amount of harvesting areas I can have a connection to?

No. However, you need to show both historical and contemporary connection to each harvesting area. Through the MNA Harvester Identification Card application process, one must show pre-1900 family roots as well as a contemporary connection in the respective harvesting area(s). Potentially, an MNA citizen can connect to two, three, or all harvesting areas, if they can prove the area connection requirements.

Can family members (e.g. partner) who are not Métis harvest under my harvesting rights?

No, the Métis Harvesting Agreement and Policy solely applies to approved harvesters who are citizens of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

Where do I get my Métis Harvester Identification Card?

Similar to the MNA citizenship application process, the Métis Harvester Identification Card application process will be based out of the provincial office in Edmonton. Our Registry and Harvesting teams will also travel the province to help with applications and provide information.

If you are about to apply for MNA Citizenship, you will be able to apply for the Métis Harvester Identification Card simultaneously.

How do I show historical and contemporary connection to a harvesting area?

To show the connection to a harvesting area, through the MNA harvester application process, one must show a pre-1900 ancestral connection to the Métis Harvesting Area(s) in the Métis Harvesting in Alberta Policy (2018). Potentially, an MNA citizen can connect to two, three, or all harvesting areas.

How to show historical and contemporary connections to harvesting areas:

  • Pre-1900 ancestral connection must be shown by genealogical history, including where ancestors lived and when they lived there. The MNA is currently enhancing our database and registration process to assist MNA Citizens with establishing their ancestral connection to the Métis Harvesting Areas.
  • Contemporary connection to the same Métis Harvesting Area must be shown through compliance with the MNA’s policy on contemporary community acceptance.

Southern Alberta is not included in the updated policy, why not? What is the plan?

A previous court decision has found that Métis do not have harvesting rights in the Cypress Hills area. Alberta feels bound by these decisions and unable to recognize Métis harvesting rights in the Treaty 7 area at this time. The MNA strongly disagrees and continues to fight for the recognition of Métis harvesting rights in the south.

The Métis Harvesting Agreement includes several wins for MNA Region 3:

  • For the first time, Alberta recognizes Métis harvesting rights in the north of Region 3, particularly around Rocky Mountain House;
  • MNA members living in Region 3 will be able to harvest in central and northern Alberta if they can show a historical and contemporary connect there; and
  • Alberta has committed to further discussions regarding the recognition of Métis harvesting rights in the south. Until now, Alberta had refused to discuss Métis harvesting in southern Alberta. With this agreement, that has changed.

What are Métis rights?

All Métis and Indigenous people are born with inherent rights. An inherent right is a collective right of all Métis that stems from the community’s connection to the land. These rights cannot be taken away, although they are often unrecognized by other levels of government.

Inherent rights include:

  • rights to the land
  • rights to subsistence resources and activities
  • the right to self-determination and self-government
  • the right to practice one’s own culture and customs, including language and religion.