Edmonton – April 23, 2018
On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the Metis Settlements General Council Board of Directors met with Premier Rachel Notley at the Alberta Legislature. The meeting came about originally to discuss immediate issues related to Alberta’s Metis Harvesting Policy. The scope of the discussion expanded to Section 35 Aboriginal Rights, Long-Term sustainability of the Settlements, and cooperation from Alberta in discussions with the Federal Government.
Each Settlement Chairperson developed their own set of points to raise with the Premier. Over the course of the meeting, the Premier listened to each Chairperson’s presentation and made notes on the key issues. Given that there was a lot of material to cover, Premier Notley agreed that a follow-up meeting with the Assembly would be a good idea.
There were four key areas of immediate commitment that were raised with Premier Notley: obtaining a commitment from Alberta to formally recognize the Metis Settlements’ Section 35 Aboriginal Rights, to begin discussions on greater autonomy and sustainability for the communities, to obtain a commitment regarding the Government of Alberta’s participation in intergovernmental meetings with Canada, and the Premier’s assurance that she will meet with MSGC annually. The following four points are the first steps that MSGC believes are required to start down a path of reconciliation. These are only preliminary actions. There is much more that needs to be done following these actions:
- Directing the Ministry of Environment and Parks to recognize and accept Metis Settlement Membership Cards as sufficient proof of Settlement members’ Section 35 Right to harvest on unoccupied Crown lands. A commitment to revise existing policy to recognize these membership cards for the purpose of harvesting is a simple, but meaningful action that will demonstrate Alberta’s commitment to reconciliation.
- Committing the Ministry of Indigenous Relations to completing a comprehensive review of the existing Long-Term Agreement and opening preliminary discussions to address any deficiencies or concerns with the Agreement. This may include re-negotiating the LTA, or, development of a new agreement that enhances our autonomy, consistent with Articles 3 & 4 on self-determination in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Participating in the discussions regarding the development of a framework agreement between the Metis Settlements and Canada. The Premier indicated in the meeting that she is prepared to make her Ministers and officials available to participate upon invitation. MSGC agreed to follow up with Minister Feehan as necessary.
- Annual meetings with Settlement leadership. The Premier agreed that additional meetings would be of value. MSGC will move forward by coordinating with the Premier’s staff to confirm an available date for her to attend an Assembly with MSGC’s full leadership.