The Manitoba Métis Federation and the Government of Canada have announced a joint action plan — including millions of dollars in funding — aimed at addressing a long-standing land dispute.
The announcement comes after a 2013 Supreme Court victory for the MMF, which argued the federal government had violated the Manitoba Act of 1870, an agreement that vowed to set aside land for 7,000 Red River Métis children.
The first payment in the MMF-Canada joint action plan totals $154.3 million, which the federal government will advance to the MMF once both parties have completed their work on a negotiated agreement to finalize the details of the transfer.
David Chartrand, president of MMF, said he “can’t stop smiling” for the Métis people after waiting nearly 150 years for a resolution and the transfer of funding.
“This announcement demonstrates concrete progress through the ongoing negotiation process established between the Manitoba Métis Federation and Canada with the November 2016 signing of the Manitoba Métis Federation-Canada Framework Agreement on Advancing Reconciliation,” Chartrand added.
“The Métis are tax-paying and hardworking people. We pay billions of dollars in taxes federally in the homeland, and hundreds and hundreds of millions in taxes in Manitoba. We never really got any social programs. We always just looked through the windows, watching everyone else get it, except us. This $154 million is the beginning of change,” he said.
The joint action plan has a three-pronged approach to addressing the MMF`s concerns.
First, the plan seeks to use funding to invest in areas of improvement for the social and economic well-being of the Manitoba Métis community. The second aim is for both parties to work toward a self-government agreement in a timely manner, and the third effort will be to implement a plan that transitions the MMF from its current corporate structure to a self-governing Métis government.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett was in Winnipeg for the announcement.
“We are moving forward as true partners at the negotiating table to begin to put reconciliation into action. This is a truly historic process, and we look forward to working with the Manitoba Métis Federation on solutions that promote a lasting and meaningful reconciliation for the benefit of the Manitoba Métis Community and all Canadians,” said Bennett in a statement.