OTTAWA _ The federal government signed historic self-government agreements Thursday with the Metis nations of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
The agreements affirm the Metis right of self-government and formally recognize the mandates of the Metis nations in the three provinces.
They further recognize the Metis governments’ jurisdiction in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection and government operations and set out processes for negotiating more areas of jurisdiction in future.
The agreements also spell out the next steps toward formally recognizing Metis governments in Canadian law.
Audrey Poitras, president of the Metis Nation of Alberta, said the agreements mark the beginning of “a true government-to-government relationship with Canada based on reconciliation and a recognition of our place in Confederation.”
“This historic agreement is a major step toward guaranteeing our rights to our land, our resources, our education and our culture,” said Greg McCallum, president of the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan. “It is real progress for our people.”
Margaret Froh, president of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the agreements are the culmination of a century-long campaign for recognition of Metis people’s inherent right to self-determination and self-government.
“Our Metis citizens and communities will rise to the exciting challenge of developing a 21st-century Metis government that is authentic, visionary, responsive and accountable that will serve our citizens and communities for generations to come,” she said.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett called the agreements a “fundamental step to advance reconciliation” and predicted they will transform the federal relationship with Metis nations in the three provinces.