Federal Government Appoints Special Representative for Section 35 Métis Rights

BC Métis Federation sent a letter to follow up the Federal Minster`s announcement last week to appoint a representative to further address Section 35 Métis rights.

This is a major sign of progress for Métis across Canada and the announcement provides a sign of new commitments to move forward with Métis in Canada.

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Honourable Bernard Valcourt 
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada 
Government of Canada (AANDC) 

Re: Section 35 Special Representative Appointment 

Dear Minister Valcourt, The BC Métis Federation would like to congratulate you on your recent decision to appoint Tom Isaac as the Ministerial Special Representative to Lead Engagement with Métis. We also learned that Mr. Isaac will engage with the Manitoba Metis Federation to explore ways to advance dialogue on reconciliation with Métis in Manitoba in response to the 2013 Manitoba Metis Federation et al. v. Canada decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On behalf of our partner members and communities, the BC Métis Federation is encouraged by your commitment to work with “partners” and the development of a new “reconciliation framework for addressing Section 35 Aboriginal rights.” The recent Government of Canada’s release also talks about dialogue, shared solutions and new measures to advance treaty negotiations. In this release you also state that the Ministerial Special Representative will meet with organizations to map out a process for dialogue.

We believe that there is need for a national consensus shift toward affirmation of historic and contemporary Métis identities across Canada, and informing the next generation of Canadians of these new relationships.

Your release states that the initiative responds to calls from Métis organizations as well as a recommendation on comprehensive land claims policy reform. On behalf of our constituent Métis members and partner Métis communities, the BC Métis Federation invites a response from the Ministry about next steps to initiate dialogue on these historic matters of importance with our organization.

As you are aware, Métis are historically a mobile people and many Manitoba Métis affected by the Manitoba Métis lands case now reside in British Columbia, among other places. Furthermore, many have no affiliation with the Manitoba Métis Federation or its affiliates. These concerns and others need to be clarified going forward through negotiation.

This past week our country witnessed the powerful events of reconciliation in Ottawa with the release of the Truth and Reconciliation 94 recommendations. This past week we also witnessed a reaffirmation of treaty principles based on mutual recognition and respect. We heard that reconciliation is a Canadian problem.

The pending dialogue on the future of Métis in Confederation, if handled correctly, has the potential to usher in a new era of positive relations based upon ‘partnership’. It is our desire that this dialogue moves beyond ‘identity politics’ and fully reflects the legal, political, economic and social realities in Canada, opening up possibility and opportunity for Métis and for all Canadians.

It requires imagination and political leadership to initiate a national public conversation about Métis identity and rights, and we recognize the Government of Canada for this bold initiative.

We believe that the problems are not greater than the opportunities. To this end, we invite your partnership and look forward to a timely response and follow up provided the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s statement released June 4th, 2015.

Thank you,

Keith Henry 
BC Métis Federation 
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway 
V5R 5W2

cc BC Métis Federation Board Members

BC Métis Federation Members

Encl: Minister’s Announcement June 4th, 2015 http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=984379

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-letter-to-AANDC-Minister-Valcourt-June-8th-2015-Metis-Section-35-Appointment.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download a PDF version of this letter.[/ilink]

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