Métis Aboriginal Governance:
Charting a Path Forward
The International approach to Indigenous issues, especially rights relating to self-determination and other rights has focused in the last two decades on securing the recognition, respect and protection of these rights as an approach for moving forward with Governments and Aboriginal actors. In Canada, the Constitution Act(1982) enshrined some of these elements, and over a decade later the Government of Canada developed the Inherent Right Self-Government Policy (1995), which included Métis people and was focused on practical ways of moving self-government forward. Indeed, successful tripartite relationships with provinces, the federal government and Métis organizations ensued, and worthwhile pragmatic initiatives resulted, although not always at the pace the parties had hoped. However, in the intervening period since 1982 much has changed in Canada with respect to Métis people. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) developed a ground-breaking report that included Métis-specific recommendations and approaches. In 2003 the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the existence of Métis Aboriginal rights (to hunt for food) and set out a broad identification test. In 2004 the Taku and Haida decisions made plain the duty to consult and its broad application to include Métis, later backed up by the Labrador Métis Nation Decision (at the Provincial court of appeal level). Additionally there have been a number of lower court decisions affirming Métis rights in various provinces.
Further in 2008 the Métis National Council Protocol Agreement was signed between the Métis National Council and the Government of Canada. The agreement sets in place a process to discuss key issues of concern to the Métis people and Canada. Key legal and policy changes are afoot and opportunities exist to re-imagine the political relationships between governments (federal, provincial) and Métis organizations and political actors to develop new or enhanced vehicles for reconciling Métis self-government and Métis Aboriginal rights, and to develop creative options to positively reconcile the Métis people with Canada. The idea of this conference is to draw out creative answers to complex issues and to bring new thinking to bear on ongoing processes and issues.
Metis Settlements General Council