A Canada-Metis Nation accord signed in Ottawa has Metis leaders buoyed with a renewed sense of optimism.
“It’s been a long, long struggle and of course we still have a long ways to go but it was a very significant milestone achievement for our people,” said an ecstatic Gerald Morin.
Morin, the vice president of Metis Nation – Saskatchewan, signed the accord Thursday, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, and the presidents of the Metis National Council, the Metis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Metis Nation of Alberta and the Metis Nation British Columbia.
“If you look at the document it has all of the right words, nation to nation, government-to-government relationship,” Morin said. “Clearly the government of Canada has acknowledged and recognized the Metis Nation, the fact that we are governments.”
A release from the Metis National Council calls the accord “groundbreaking,” saying it “marks a turning point for Canada and the Metis Nation.” They will now start negotiations on shared priorities in a permanent bilateral forum chaired by the prime minister.
MNC president Clem Chartier called it a “reset” in the relationship.
“A process is in place to deal with issues in a concentrated and collaborative manner and that speaks to the commitment of both parties to get things done,” Chartier said in the release.
Meeting annually, they will jointly set policy priorities for the year ahead. Priorities in the first year include employment and training, youth, early learning and child care, poverty reduction and homelessness. They will also look at improved cultural supports for school children, greater support for post-secondary education, and expanded capacity at Metis educational institutes.
Morin recalled that around this time last year he was heading home from hearing the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Daniels case, holding that the federal government has jurisdiction to deal with Metis rights and program and service issues.