It has been a busy 24 hours for the Métis Nation. First, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) has withdrawn from the Métis National Council (MNC), and then Clément Chartier delivered his last speech as leader as MNC president.
To add to the drama, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), on probation since 2018 over concerns with its citizenship registry, is now back in the fold.
David Parent, an assistant professor of Métis history at the University of Manitoba believes it is a historic moment.
“What we’re seeing right now is the end of a political order that has existed for a good 30 years, but also the beginning of some very interesting, yet to be had conversations about Métis history and society,” said Parent when reached by phone.
A letter from MMF president David Chartrand to Chartier was posted on the MNC’s website and social media pages on Tuesday evening.
In the letter announcing the MMF’s withdrawal, Chartrand wrote, “we view this not as MMF leaving MNC. Rather, it is the MNC that has abandoned the MMF and the true Métis Nation.”
Over the last few years, both Chartrand and Chartier have been warning that MNO is opening the floodgates to an “eastern invasion” and granting Métis citizenship to thousands of people living in eastern Ontario.
“I think MNC has lost its legitimacy, period, by allowing Ontario in,” said Chartrand in an interview with APTN News on Wednesday. “I think by bringing in those people that are not Métis, they’ve become Congress of Aboriginal People number two.”
Chartrand also thanked Chartier for his 18 years as president of MNC. Chartrand says one of the conditions in court was that Chartier was not allowed to provide a “farewell speech.”
In July, the MNO, with the support of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Métis Nation–Saskatchewan, and Métis Nation British Columbia, appeared before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in its legal action against Chartier.
In a July 26 press release, the Métis governments wrote, “While its decision will be issued next week, the Court supported the MNO in its positions and advised all members of the Métis National Council (MNC) Board of Governors that the Resolution in question passed by the MNC ‘did not suspend the MNO’ from the MNC.
“With this ruling, it is clear that Mr. Chartier and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) have been wrong to insist otherwise, a position which they have used to justify running the MNC without the input or supervision of 4 of the 5 Governing Members of the MNC since May 2019.
“Further to the court hearing, all members of the MNC Board of Governors will now work to propose a Special Sitting of the General Assembly of the MNC which shall be held as soon as practicable, including the long overdue election of a new MNC President.”
The court proceedings were initiated in April.
In Saskatoon, at the special assembly, Chartier did speak to delegates, then got into his car and drove home.
During his speech, Chartier thanked the leaders and citizens who supported him over the past 18 years.
“I believe in my heart that in the long run, the integrity of the Métis Nation will remain intact, its identity, citizenship, and homeland will remain intact and that our future generations will look back on this period of time and say yes, although there was some turmoil, there was also progress,” Chartier said before departing the stage.
There are very few items on the two day agenda but they are big ones, including “revisiting the status of MNO.”
MNO president Margaret Froh spoke at the assembly saying there had been “plenty of lies” over the past three years and adding her organization has been “attacked for power and politics.”
Froh went on to say that “dysfunction and disrespect” has plagued the Métis National Council for a number of years.
A lengthy resolution was presented to delegates that called for the establishment of an expert panel with a mandate to review the history of seven Ontario communities that have been in question and the MNO’s ongoing registry review process.
Part of that resolution, that was approved, also sees the 2018 MNC general assembly probation resolution against MNO suspended until the review process is completed, which is expected to take 12 months.
On Thursday, the MNC will select a new president. It will mark the first time since 2003 that Chartier has not been at the helm.