Alberta Métis vote to ratify constitution

Click to play video: 'Métis Nation of Alberta moves closer to self-government after historic vote'
Métis Nation of Alberta moves closer to self-government after historic vote
More than 15,000 Metis Albertans voted to ratify a constitution that could see the Métis Nation of Alberta become an Indigenous government body. Dan Grummett has more on what it means. – Dec 2, 2022

Members of the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying a constitution in a month-long voting process, as announced at a gala Thursday.

In the largest ratification vote of an Indigenous group in Canadian history, 15,729 people voted in November. Almost 97 per cent voted in favour of the constitution.

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The agreement establishes the MNA as a legitimate government in Canada. It’s one of about 25 self-government agreements already in place — a modern treaty.

It sets the MNA up to start running things in a way that works best for them, according to Garrett Tomlinson, senior director of self-government implementation at MNA.

“What self-government would allow the MNA to do is collect transfer payments from the Government of Canada and develop their own health programming, health delivery, their own programs for child and family services, and deliver them directly to our citizens in ways that would meaningfully address their needs,” he said.

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“The sky’s the limit for what that might look like.

“You could see Métis primary care clinics, Métis service delivery models through dental care, mental health programming that’s specific to Métis needs, that’s funded and regulated by the MNA.”

Click to play video: 'Indigenous self-government in Canada'
Indigenous self-government in Canada

During the vote, Ron Quintal, president of Fort McKay Métis Nation near Fort McMurray, told 630 CHED that this vote was an undemocratic power grab.

Now that the constitution has been ratified, he said it still doesn’t mean the MNA is the sole representative of Métis people in Alberta.

“I want to be very clear here … in any way for (MNA members) to be able to assert rights, I applaud that. The reality from my perspective, though, is this is moreso a conversation that we have to take to Justin Trudeau and (Crown-Indigenous Relations) Minister (Marc) Miller for clarity,” he said.

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“I think that the question that everybody has in their minds is, ‘Is this really valid? Does this organization really represent my rights?’ And Canada needs to make that very clear.”

Click to play video: 'Métis in Canada granted right for self-governance'
Métis in Canada granted right for self-governance

Quintal recommends the constitution only be applied to MNA members.

“If the government was to come in and say the legislation for the MNA constitution will be limited to their membership, then I think that the problem will be averted,” he said.

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MNA president Audrey Poitras addressed those opposing the constitution while speaking to MNA members Thursday.

“There are some that do not share this vision. They do not want to see a united Métis nation,” said Poitras.

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“They see themselves instead as operating more like Indian Act bands on reserves. But there’s a reason our ancestors took a stand against that colonial structure and control.”

Click to play video: 'Indigenous-owned businesses growing in Edmonton'
Indigenous-owned businesses growing in Edmonton

“No one, be they powers from outside our nation or the personal ambitions of some within, will ever stand in the way of citizens accessing their government and their services,” she said.

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