On June 27, 2019, the Métis Nation of Alberta signed a self-government agreement with the Canadian government.
Established in 1928, the MNA divides Alberta into six regions.
Region 5 office is in Slave Lake. Region 5 covers a large area including the MD of Lesser Slave River and Big Lakes County. It extends south of La Crete on the Peace River to south of the Athabasca River and Smith. The western border is east of Valleyview and Peace River. The eastern border is past Sandy Lake and Chipewyan Lake.
Writing a constitution and implementing self-government will take a long time, says Hilda Lambert, Vice-President of MNA Region 5. Over the next while, Region 5 will organize “engagements” to discuss and get feedback from local citizens of the Métis Nation on matters of self-government.
“The goal of these engagements will be to develop a constitution for a new Métis Government for the Métis Nation within Alberta,” says the MNA website. “We need to build and develop the constitution together. The constitution will, ultimately, be in the hands for the MNA citizens to decide.”
According to the MNA website, these will be similar to a series of “engagement” meetings with Métis citizens held in 2018.
“The Self-Government Agreement gives us (the Métis Nation) the legal means to regain control over matters directly affecting us and ensure Métis culture flourishes for generations,” the MNA website says.
The agreement is limited, with the possibility for further negotiation.
The agreement is for “core self-government (i.e. citizenship, leadership, and internal management),” says the MNA website. There is space within the agreement to negotiate for other “matters affecting the Métis Nation within Alberta, including rights, language, culture and heritage, education, housing, environment, land, social welfare, and others.”
There are three Métis settlements in Region 5.
The Métis settlements aren’t covered by the agreement, but are negotiating with the Canadian government, the MNA website says. Eligible settlement residents can apply for MNA citizenship.
The MNA head office is being approached by the Alberta government to discuss how the agreement changes the relationship between the two, Lambert says.
This is the first self-government agreement between the Canadian and a Metis government.
The Canadian government has signed other agreements with First Nations and Inuit governments. For example, the Sawridge Nation adopted its own constitution in 2009.
From August 17 to 18, 2019, the MNA 91st Annual General Assembly will be in St. Paul in Region 2.
There will be lots of discussion about self-government at the AGA, Lambert says.
Times for local meetings haven’t been set. People interested can contact MNA Region 5 office at 780-849-4654.
MNA has information and answers to frequently asked questions at albertaMétis.com/governance/self-government/.