September 29, 2021 (Edmonton, AB) – Today, the Métis Nation of Alberta—as the oldest of the Métis Nation’s governments in Canada and one of the three original Founding Members of the Métis National Council (MNC)—issued the following statement in response to the Manitoba Métis Federation’s (MMF) announcement that it has formally withdrawn from the MNC.
“While it is unfortunate President Chartrand has unilaterally made the decision to leave the MNC, that is his choice,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. “The Métis Nation has never been about one man, one province or one organization. Our Nation is our citizens and communities across the Homeland. As a Nation, we are bound together through our lands, language, culture, stories, symbols, kinship and way of life. No corporate entity from Manitoba owns the Métis Nation. It is utterly ridiculous to suggest such a thing.”
In 1983, the MNC was created by the democratically elected governments of the Métis Nation in the three Prairie Provinces, coming together to create a national body to ensure the Métis People were represented in the constitutional conferences to address the Aboriginal rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. These forward-looking Métis Nation governments knew there was strength in working together to ensure the voice of Louis Riel’s People was heard in Ottawa.
While the MNC is 38 years old, the contemporary Métis Nation Governments that created it existed long before the MNC even came to be. The MNA was founded in 1928. The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) finds it origins in the 1930s. The MMF was established in 1967. In the 1990s, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) joined the MNC as Governing Members. Collectively, for over a quarter of a century, the MNO, MMF, MN-S, MNA and MNBC have come together to mandate the MNC.
Over these decades, the MNC has played an important role on behalf of its Governing Members in advancing Métis Nation rights, interests and claims at the national and international levels. Like the Assembly of First Nations and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the MNC is a national advocacy body. Unlike the Governing Members that mandate it, the MNC is not, itself, a government. The MNC’s mandate is to respect the jurisdictions of the Métis Nation Governments that created it and support these governments in their journeys of self-determination and self-government, including the recognition of Métis lands and rights.
After a series of successes at the Supreme Court of Canada on Métis rights and claims between 2003 to 2016, and the election of a Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, the Métis Nation has entered a new era of recognition with the federal Crown, including the signing of self-government agreements with Canada in 2019, significant federal investments in the Métis Nation over a series of Federal Budgets and commitments to negotiation processes to finally deal with Métis land and rights related issues, including the legacy of Métis scrip.
These milestones should have changed the MNC’s approach to how it has operated. Instead, the MNC – which has largely been controlled by Clem Chartier and MMF President David Chartrand (as the self-appointed “MNC Vice-President”) – refused to convene any meetings of the MNC Board of Governors, unilaterally extended Mr. Chartier’s term and refused to provide even basic financial disclosures or accountability to the MNC’s Governing Members. Along the way, Mr. Chartier also failed in his campaign to be elected as MN-S President.
In response to the MNC’s dysfunction, four of the five MNC Governing Members turned to the courts to ensure democracy and transparency were respected by securing a meeting of the MNC General Assembly to elect a new MNC President. On the cusp of this meeting being held, David Chartrand decided to withdraw the MMF from the MNC, likely knowing that his agenda and control of the MNC were coming to an end.
“As we have for almost a century now, the MNA will continue to focus on delivering results for Alberta Métis as well as advancing self-determination and self-government for our citizens and communities here in Alberta,” said Poitras. “We will also continue to work with other Métis Nation governments through the MNC and will continue to push for reform and accountability within our national body.”