Alberta Métis settlements sign framework agreement with Canada

A group representing the eight Métis settlements in Alberta signed an agreement with the federal government Monday in Ottawa that they say signals a new relationship  with Canada.

The Métis Settlements General Council (MSGC) and Canada signed a framework agreement that will serve as the basis for ongoing negotiations toward a reconciliation agreement with the eight Métis settlement councils representing the people of Buffalo Lake, East Prairie, Elizabeth, Fishing Lake, Gift Lake Kikino, Paddle Prairie and Peavine.

MSGC President Gerald Cunningham said the agreement “cements our relationship with Canada,” and that the Métis laid out health, education, housing, governance funding, and title recognition of the settlements under Canada’s constitution as priorities of the agreement.

“It is with all humility that we go forward in this partnership knowing that you know best what your communities need,” Bennett told Métis leaders gathered in Ottawa for the signing.

Cunningham said the Métis settlements have long fought for bilateral relations with Canada, as their communities currently fall under provincial jurisdiction.

Métis Settlements General Council President Gerald Cunningham said the framework agreement “cements our relationship with Canada.” Photo: Justin Brake/APTN.

He said following a meeting with Bennett in January 2017 it appeared the minister “recognized that the Métis settlements, being the only legislated land-based Métis in Canada, were very unique, and that Canada had to deal with the Métis settlements in a separate bilateral process.”

Cunningham said that in the new year the MSGC will “do as much as we can while we can” toward striking a binding agreement with the Justin Trudeau government before the fall election.

“Although this is an historic moment there is still much work to do, but I am very confident that with this new relationship we have with Canada, and the relationship that we have with Alberta, we will make some great strides to fulfilling our goals of political autonomy, self-determination, economic self-reliance and instilling some hope and pride back into our youth,” he said.