Watch above: Failure to agree to hold a legislative assembly before March means the future of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan is in limbo. Aaron Streck tells us if a court doesn’t now order such a meeting in time, the reinstatement of federal funding will be too late and the organization will close its doors.
SASKATOON – Getting everyone in the same room for the first time in almost two years was a step in the right direction but more work still needs to be done after last week’s provincial Métis council meeting. The future of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan is on the line.
“The clock is ticking on the existence of the MNS,” said Métis Nation-Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette.
When Doucette was elected in 2007, he never imagined that less than a decade later the organization, which has been around for 75 years, would be on the verge of closing. That reality became clear after last week’s court-ordered provincial meeting didn’t set a legislative assembly date before the end of March.
READ MORE: Métis Nation-Saskatchewan meets in Saskatoon
“I guess my belief was dashed when they defeated the motion made by Treasurer Louis Gardiner, there’s a lot at stake here the very survival of the MNS is at stake here,” said Doucette.
What’s at stake is $800,000 in registry money and another $150,000 in basic operations for this fiscal year.
“There’s a lot of catching up we have to do, now that there’s been some disclosure, some reporting of information of finances and other things, now we’re able to hopefully have some council meetings in the future where we can begin to put our affairs in order,” said Gerald Morin, vice-president of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan.
An assembly was instead scheduled for September which is too late to reinstate federal funding. Doucette said Tuesday this is forcing him to go back to court to order an earlier gathering.
“This is the last resort. If this doesn’t work the doors of the MNS are going to shut. It’s the bottom line,” said Doucette.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen with our present financial state of affairs, we may have to close the doors in any event. I can’t see how we can keep them open unless the federal government is able to reinstate funding quickly but I’m sure that’s something they’re not willing to do,” said Morin.
If the MNS closes its doors, Doucette said it could have an impact on Métis people across the province.
“As we move forward, yes this could mean that Métis citizens could not access housing, education, employment opportunities,” said Doucette.
“How are they going to settle this, if it doesn’t come to the people, it won’t be settled,” said Shirley Isbister, president of the Central Urban Métis Federation.
The last Métis legislative assembly was held five years ago. The organization’s constitution states two are to be held each year.