The Metis National Council (MNC) is encouraging the federal government to continue its work on the Indigenous rights framework agreement that was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Valentine’s Day.
“The simple answer is yes, the Metis Nation can go it alone,” President Clement Chartier told those gathered in Winnipeg. “There’s no reason why Canada cannot pass the same legislation and make it Metis nation specific.”
According to the government, the framework will “provide clarity and certainty on Canada’s responsibilities toward engaging with Indigenous Peoples.”
But while Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has been travelling the country meeting with Indigenous leaders, many First Nation chiefs and grassroots people want the government to put the framework legislation on hold.
A B.C. chief told APTN News that Canada may have already decided to delay tabling legislation before the end of year.
“I haven’t been told that it’s not going to proceed to try to meet the deadline for passage before the next election,” Chartier said.
Tom Isaac, who was federally appointed by Bennett as the minister’s special representative on reconciliation with Metis said the framework is a unique opportunity for the Metis Nation to have their rights acknowledged by the federal government.
“What’s important is, is that the framework that’s being proposed is there’s nothing that hurts, negatively impacts or limits the rights,” said Isaac. “It’s all about acknowledgement and moving forward and that’s what’s critical.”
Chartier said he remains optimistic that the framework will proceed for the Metis – but is worried about the timeframe.
“If it’s not tabled relatively soon it’s not going to meet the deadline prior to the next election,” he said. “At that time it becomes kind of irrelevant, if it’s going to be dealt with after the election because we would need to wait until the outcome of that election and so gets into power.
“If liberals get re-elected the we would continue to press them to move forward on that legislation, if the conservatives form government, I don’t think we’d have much of an opportunity to even have that dialogue.”