Proposed federal legislation that has drawn the ire of First Nations in Ontario, the Manitoba Métis Federation and others is not that controversial says Métis Nation-Saskatchewan President Glen McCallum.
Bill C-53, an act “respecting the recognition of certain Métis governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and provides a framework for the implementation of treaties entered into by those Métis governments and the Government of Canada,” was first introduced in June 2023 by then minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller. It’s been winding its way through committee hearings, ever since.
First Nations in Ontario have been leading the charge to “kill the bill.”
The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) say they have been raising concerns about the Métis of Ontario (MNO) for well over a decade.
In a press release in October, the COO went as far as saying they “do not recognize MNO as a legitimate organization” and say the passing of Bill C-53 would infringe on their Inherent and treaty rights.
McCallum said there isn’t a similar pushback in Saskatchewan and feels the bill is not controversial.
“We don’t have that issue in Saskatchewan. I leave it to other provinces in regards to what they want to do to communicate with First Nations but we’ve done a great job in Saskatchewan in regards to engaging First Nations people and we’ve lived with First Nations people.
“I have seven grandchildren that belong to Muskeg Lake, La Ronge Indian Band, so we have that kinship, we have community, we understand each other,” said McCallum on the latest episode of Face to Face.
The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) has also spoken out about C-53 and appeared on Parliament Hill on Nov. 7.
For years, the MMF has for years been raising concerns about the Métis Nation of Ontario citizens registry and left the Métis National Council in 2021.
The COO said it also has concerns with MNO’s registry and said it is “deeply flawed.”
In June 2023, the MNO special assembly passed a resolution to “allow for the removal of citizens from the MNO Registry whose files do not meet the current requirements for MNO citizenship.”
“Ontario has its situation where they have to identify in regards to whose part of the Metis Nation” but believes “Manitoba should stay on their lane to what’s important to them,” said McCallum. “I don’t overlap to Manitoba or Alberta or anywhere else for that matter. I concentrate on the government that we have to build and the jurisdiction that is very clear with the agreements that we’ve signed. Citizenship and boundaries and we’re working with the provincial government, on our way to sign a citizenship agreement, we did that with the University of Saskatchewan.
“So, I concentrate on the province.”
There has been a good deal of political infighting within the Métis Nation in recent years that culminated with MMF leaving MNC. Numerous lawsuits are also winding their way through the courts.
Still, McCallum said the MNC has an important role to play.
“For me, it’s a lobby group, it represents us as I’m one of the governors that sits there. We need a national voice and we need to be able to work together to create that one voice. And that’s been very important nowadays to have that one strong voice,” he said.
Despite the opposition to Bill C-53, McCallum said he has high hopes of Canada passing the legislation, even if some tweaks are needed.