Metis Nation unhappy with exclusion from closing TRC event

Julien Gignac
APTN National News
OTTAWA — The Métis Nation is disheartened by the lack of acknowledgment in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The report issued Tuesday excludes experiences suffered by Metis at the hands of officials in the country’s dark residential school history.

“In terms of the residential schools their [the government’s] final position is that they were run by religious entities therefore they have no responsibility,” said Métis National Council President Clément Chartier. “If we’re going to have true reconciliation, it has to be reconciliation between all aboriginal peoples, not only some.”

There is an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 Métis in Canada, accounting for roughly one quarter of all Indigenous peoples.

History of Métis exclusion coming from the federal government has repeated itself, according to Tony Belcourt, founding president of the Métis Nation of Ontario.

Belcourt’s bone to pick is not with the TRC, however.

“Any argument of exclusion is certainly not with the TRC, not with those commissioners who tried, I know, very hard to ensure the Métis voice was heard during the whole process over the last six years,” said Belcourt. “Those are decent people.

“If there has been any exclusion of Métis people from anything, the responsibility for that falls squarely at the foot of the government of Canada,”

The commission is the result of the Settlement Agreement struck in 2007, which the Métis were excluded from, too.

“We didn’t decide who was in it, who signed it or who didn’t,” said Marie Wilson, commissioner of the TRC. “The issue of Métis representation is something we’ve been flagging as a concern and in fact wrote about in our interim report in 2012.”

Wilson said that the commission did not discriminate and has always invited Métis to national events.

Within the nearly 7,000 residential school testimonies gathered by the TRC are Métis voices.

At the closing event of the TRC Wilson and Belcourt could be seen joining hands and round dancing.

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