From Once a Nation to Nation Once More: Métis Rebirth and Self-Governance FNAT 425 Guest lecture Spring/2010
The Right to Self-government • Canadian federal policy recognizes the right of self-government • Section 35 recognizes the métis as an aboriginal people whose ‘existing aboriginal & treaty rights…are recognized and affirmed’. • RCAP identifies attributes of an aboriginal nation that has rights to self-govern protected under Section 35 and who should enter into ‘nation-to-nation’ relations with Canada • Nation = sizeable body + shared sense of identity +predominant population in certain territory (RCAP) • Rights extend beyond territory • But can these métis people be identified and as a nation what rights do they possess?
Finding The People • Term métis used by two distinct groups of people • All mixed aboriginal/non-aboriginal ancestry • Members of Historic Métis Nation (ongoing connection to historic community; ancestral connection; community acceptance) • Case law vesting rights in the latter (see Teillet) • Indian and Métis communities intertwined with families split between treaty and scrip, or changing choice in new circumstances • At points non-status and métis aligned politically e.g. Native Council of Canada; Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
The Concept of Citizenship • Sizable gap currently exists between self-identified Métis and citizens • e.g. B.C. 2006 census shows59,445self-identified Métis yet only4758registered citizens in MNBC with 3181 pending ( in 6 years of registering) • Citizenship based onproofof: 1) decendency from historic Métis nation; 2) acceptance by existing community & 3) self-identification • Métis/First Nationdual citizenship restriction (but Cunnigham 2009 may impact ) • Confusion on what is the ‘nation’…the community, the province, the country, or the continent
Nationhood and Rights • Aboriginal rights (including self-government) are history based and vested in communities not individuals ~ descent must be proven • Rights bearing Communities must be located geographically and pre-date sovereignty assertion by the Crown • Section 35 purpose the ‘reconciliation of the pre-existence of distinctive aboriginal societies with the assertion of Crown sovereignty’(R. v. Van der Peet, 1996) • Contact versus control i.e. who was governing/ relevant time • A history of Crown-Métis relations • Resurgent political work 1930’s on • Métis homeland not well defined • Section 91 (24) “Indian” ?
Testing the notion of a Métis Nation and accompanying aboriginal rights • Delgamuukw(1997) – joint occupation of land not precluded; exclusive stronger argument • Morin & Daigneault(1996) – rights not extinguished by Dominion Lands Act or scrip issuance • Powley (2003) – confirms rights do not exist from Indian ancestors but as métis people; post-contact, pre-control; métis nations are regional cultural communities • Blais (2003) – Métis an ‘organized society for some period prior to creation of Manitoba’ ; 1818 used as date of assertion of British sovereignty (1846 for B.C.) • Willison(2005) – B.C. rights bearing communities & Sec. 35 aboriginal rights are not exclusive for one group over another. • Gooden (2009)- ‘Community’ a large interrelated unity including many settlements and based on family & trade connections
Métis self-governance has history: Nation and Community • The Council of Assiniboia • The Laws of the Prairie • The 1869 Provisional Government • The Laws of St. Laurent • Manitoba Act sec 31/32 • Métis treaties and adhesions • The Alberta Métis settlements • NWT Land Claim settlements
A Dissolving Nation • Always a mobile people establishing new communities with fur trade shifts • Métis Diaspora after the 1870 and 1885 conflicts • Greater disruption in the south • Few communities retained intact (immense language loss) • Re-configured in new locations and relationships • Oftentimes communities grew adjacent to reserves and absorbed those losing status • Current communities may not match historic • Regional/integrated at times and prominent in some cities
1869 Provisional Government • Métis National Committee forms a council with 1-2 citizens from each French-speaking parish (St. Norbert, St. Boniface, etc.) • Added 12 representatives from the English-speaking parishes & settlements (St. Andrew’s, Kildonan, etc.) but later withdrew • Separate Military Council • Drafted Bill of Rights and entered negotiations with Ottawa • Manitoba Act entrenches some rights • Early majority in legislature & protection of rights
Taking & Making Treaty • 1820’s treaties & reserves in U.S. midwest & great lakes( eg. Prairie du Chien, Sault Ste. Marie) • 1840’s half breed tracts • 1862 Metis-Dakota Treaty and 1863 ‘Ten Cent’ Treaty • Adhesion to Treaty 3 in Northwest Ontario and designation of ‘half-breed reserves’ (eventually forced to join neighbouring bands) • Wood rights and water access key issues • Precursor to Métis settlements in Alberta
Alberta Metis Settlements • 12 created by the 1938 Métis Betterment Act ( now 8) • Métis Settlements General Council (formerly AFMS) • Métisism – Elmer Ghostkeeper asserted ownership of land & resources but recognition of provincial jurisdiction in other areas • Metis Settlements Accord & legislation 1990 • Protected 1.28 million acres, local governance and created co-management regime for natural resources
Land Claims • Sahtú Dene and Métis 1993 in Northwest Territories • Title to 41,000 sq. kilometres of land • Recognizes rights • guarantees the Sahtú Dene and Métis participation in institutions of public government for renewable resource management, land use planning and land and water use • Provided for negotiation of self-government agreements
The Current Picture • 1982 Constitutional protection • Seats at the table e.g. 1992 Charlottetown • International leadership at World Council of Indigenous Peoples • Tri-partite and bi-lateral self-government agreements • Governance by constitution established in most Métis ‘Nations’ (provinces) • Metis National Council still on corporate model governed by by-laws • Métis homeland still being defined as are “rights bearing communities”
Current Métis Nations governance • Summary and Overview athttp://www.metisnation.ca/mnc/snapshot.html • Initially modeled onunionor not-for–profit associationstructures • Now evolving to constitutional basedlegislaturesandjudicialarms (MNC process since 2003) • Elders (senators) more or less present • National governance is afederated modelwith representation from each province (nation)
2006 Census Pop Alberta 85,500 Ontario 73,605 Manitoba 71,805 B.C. 59,445 Sask 48,115 Quebec 27,980 Maritimes 18,805 Territories 4,515 MNC General Assembly 15 delegates 5 delegates 15 delegates 5 delegates 15 delegates 0 delegates 0 delegates 0 delegates Note: Seats based on historic prominence in MNC. Same discrepancy exists for election of President The Democracy Gap?
B.C. Métis Nation recent changes • From MPCBC to MNBC • Union to legislative structure evolution • finalized Governing Assembly Act, Citizenship Act, Electoral Act & Senate Act • ‘Governing Assembly’ comprised of 48 members: president & VP (provincial elections); 7 regional directors; 37 community association presidents; 1 youth; 1 women’s council ( Board of Directors) • Senate – judicial arm (I per region/ 55+ age minimum)
Additional Reading • Barkwell, L., Dorion, L. & Préfontaine, D. (2001). Metis Legacy. Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican. • Chartrand, P (ed). (2002). Who Are Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples?: Recognition, Definition and Jurisdiction. Saskatoon, SK: Purich. • Chartier, C. (1999). Aboriginal Self-Government and the Métis Nation. In Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada. Saskatoon, SK: Purich. • Lischke, U. & McNab, D. (2007). The Long Journey of a Forgotten People: Métis Identities & Family Histories. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier Press. • Metis National Council. (2006)Snapshot of the Nation: An Overview of the Métis Nation’s Governance Structures & Institutions. • Teillet, J. (2009). Métis Law Summary -2009. Vancouver, BC: Pape Salter & Teillet. • Weinstein, J. (2007) . Quiet Revolution West: The Rebirth of Métis Nationalism. Calgary, AB: Fifth House.