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May 15, 2014
The theme of my State of the Nation address at the beginning of the Assembly was how we as Métis people had to get our political house in order if we were to seize the opportunities being opened by our recent legal victories. These victories include last year’s decision of the Supreme Court of Canada upholding the land claim of the Manitoba Metis Federation under section 31 of the Manitoba Act 1870 and the recent ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal in the Daniels case that the Métis fall within federal jurisdiction under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867. The Federal Court furthermore limited the inclusion of the Métis under 91(24) to the historic Métis community identified in earlier Supreme Court decisions like Powley, Cunningham and Manitoba Metis Federation, that is, the people represented by the MNC and its Governing Members.
I believe the General Assembly went a long way toward getting our house in order by breaking the impasse on internal governance that has impacted us adversely for the past few months. In the election for president, I won a narrow victory over Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta, in a campaign that focused on our respective strengths and visions.
I recognize and accept that a significant portion of the Assembly did not vote for me and I will strive to work on behalf of the entire Métis Nation in order to gain their confidence. At the same time, I will not compromise or undermine the core foundations of our Métis nationalist movement based on our national identity or National Definition and our commitment to democratic accountability.
With the election over, the Assembly went on to address and adopt resolutions in support of the MNC’s work with Canada, the five westernmost provinces and industry under various framework agreements such as the Métis Nation Protocol and related accords I have spent the past six years developing. I believe the Assembly has provided me with a mandate to move ahead on the Métis Nation agenda with the Government of Canada under these agreements.
These policy resolutions should expedite our work with the Government of Canada in critical areas. Federal Minister Valcourt stated that once the MNC Assembly and election was concluded, the Government of Canada could move with the MNC on a Métis Economic Development Accord and planning the third Métis Economic Development Symposium (MEDS III) with his counterparts from the five westernmost provinces and the Métis Nation toward the development of a long term Métis economic development strategy. The MNC General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution in support of these initiatives. It also adopted resolutions to develop housing and education strategies and have these integrated into the long term Métis economic development strategy.
The General Assembly adopted a resolution in support of the common standards being developed for our registries with the assistance of the Canadian Standards Association. It directed the MNC and Governing Members to ensure: a) that the National Definition of Metis is applied in all registrations; and b) that the MNC and Governing Members engage fully in the CSA Standard setting processes to the completion and publication of a Metis Nation Registry Operations Standard which can be used to ensure that the identification and registration of Metis Nation members/citizens is consistent, respectful, objective and verifiable.
The General Assembly also adopted a number of resolutions directed toward the social cohesion and protection of Métis Nation citizens. Among these was a resolution in favor of a national elders’ gathering and another in support of MNC participation in an important new federally funded project on population health interventions that will improve Aboriginal health in four areas – Suicide, Diabetes/Obesity, Tuberculosis, and Oral Health. In the critical area of violence against Aboriginal women, the Assembly resolved to work in unity to secure an independent, accessible, transparent National Public Commission of Inquiry and a National Action Plan on missing and murdered Indigenous women that would be undertaken by the Metis National Council and the Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak.
I believe these resolutions contribute to advancing the work we are doing with the federal government under various framework agreements. If properly implemented and resourced, these agreements offer good potential for defining the special relationship between Ottawa and the Métis Nation under 91(24) in a mutually beneficial manner. For that reason, I recently wrote to the Prime Minister asking him not to appeal Daniels to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Click to Download the GA 2014 Resolutions
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