Métis Citizens to vote on Constitution this Fall
Posted on: Aug 08, 2022
Calgary, AB (August 8, 2022) – Over the weekend, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) held its 94th Annual General Assembly in Calgary, Alberta, where delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of moving forward with a province-wide ratification vote on a draft Constitution for the Métis Nation within Alberta.
The draft Constitution was tabled with the Assembly by the MNA Constitution Commission after two and a half years of extensive community engagement that included focus groups, community gatherings, hearings, written feedback and a previously circulated draft. Additional information about the MNA Constitution Commission and the engagement process is available at MNAConstitution.com.
“For generations, we have heard from our Elders, Citizens and communities that we need to get out from under provincial legislation and govern ourselves based on our inherent right to self-government and Métis traditions and laws,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. “With this draft Constitution, we can now implement what Louis Riel and our ancestors fought for: our inherent right to govern ourselves. I look forward to all our Citizens exercising their democratic right to decide on whether we will finally adopt our own Constitution.”
The resolution directs the MNA to place the final draft of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution “in the hands of all MNA citizens” and that a province-wide ratification vote that includes ballot box, mail-in and online voting be held in the fall of 2022. A copy of the full resolution is available on the MNA’s website.
Since its emergence as a distinct Indigenous people in the historic North-West in the late 1700s, the Métis Nation’s inherent right to self-determination and self-government has been fought for and cherished. In what is now known as Alberta, the Métis people have built the MNA—as the government of the Métis Nation within Alberta—for almost a century.
Historically, the MNA had no other option but to use Alberta’s Societies Act to incorporate associations to act as the legal and administrative arms of its Métis self-government structures at the local, regional and provincial levels. Provincial law imposes limitations on these corporate structures that have often undermined the exercise of the Métis Nation within Alberta’s inherent right to self-government.
In June 2019, the MNA and Canada signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA), which formally recognizes that the Métis Nation within Alberta holds the inherent right to self-government recognized by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The MGRSA also sets out a process for the recognition of an MNA Constitution—based on the Métis Nation’s inherent right to self-government—in federal legislation.
“With the current federal government, we now have an opportunity to complete what our ancestors fought and died for: to put in place a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with Canada that respects how we have chosen to govern ourselves based on Métis law,” said Poitras. “Having our own Constitution, based on the will of our citizens and Métis law and traditions, is fundamental to advancing our inherent right to self-government as the Métis Nation within Alberta. With this Constitution, we can finally remove ourselves from shackles of Alberta’ Societies Act.”
Over the next few months, the MNA Constitution Commission will host further information sessions to present the draft Constitution that will be the subject of the province-wide ratification vote. In addition, the MNA will undertake a province-wide information campaign to ensure that all of its over 55,000 citizens are aware of the ratification vote and have the opportunity to vote via ballot box or online voting.
All Citizens are encouraged to update their contact information with the MNA Registry by calling 1-800-267-5844 or visiting this link. This will enable Citizens to update their MNA Registry file and indicate their preference on how they would like to vote. Additional details and rules in relation to the conduct of the province-wide ratification vote will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.