Sources say that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed Friday, was written months ago. They add that a framework agreement on the potentially massive settlement could come as early as September. The Federal government website talks about how the MOU will be entering ‘explorative talks’. This is big news coming out of Manitoba, but there are still many unanswered questions.
The initial agreement appears to be drafted without accountability to Métis people and communities across Canada who may be impacted by it. The interests of the many Métis with historic families and kinship in the Manitoba Métis community are not represented by the ‘organization’ called Manitoba Métis Federation or its affiliates.
Instead of a national dialogue engaging different groups, they seem to be well on the way to brokering yet another backroom deal with the pretence of “exploratory talks”. Whose exclusive political interests are served by this MOU and what are the terms?
The MMF has a history of attempting to establish an exclusive political relationship with Canada through ‘exclusive rights-based citizenship’ that is ‘guaranteed’ by the Canadian government. Don’t forget that the MMF has been working to make Louis Riel the “first premier of the province.” Would Louis Riel be in agreement with the intent in what has been taking place?
Riel for his part had a clear vision for co-existence and mutual recognition. He fought for political independence, protection of difference, inherent self government and land rights. Unfortunately, Métis organizations like the Manitoba Métis Federation have not argued for an independent Métis Nation looking to secure its place within Confederation. They have not argued for nor have they established the validity of a pre-existing Métis sovereignty.
Alternatively, First Nations like the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), are clearly asserting sovereignty. First Nations in Saskatchewan now call themselves “Sovereign Indigenous Nations.”
At the recent federal budget, MMF leader Chartrand has publicly been preoccupied with budget “handouts” instead of advocating for self determination, self government and self sufficiency. Chartrand does not demonstrate a clear vision to hold governments accountable to principles of reciprocity, generosity and respect.
As we know, First Nations have long been involved in Canada’s “land claims” processes and these have been wrought with challenges for many, as the government has dictated the terms and sought to “extinguish title to the land” in ‘final’ agreements.
This Métis land deal represents one of the most complex negotiations in Canadian history and here they claim a framework agreement in some 3 months? Much more to come on this historic announcement and the implications for Métis in BC! The BC Metis Federation will be responding further to this development.