Self-Government Framework Agreement signed by Canada, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, and the Government of the Northwest Territories to guide negotiations

News release

May 19, 2021 — Fort Smith, Northwest Territories — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada, the Northwest Territory Métis Nation and the Government of the Northwest Territories have signed a framework agreement that will further advance reconciliation, the right to self-determination, work toward building strong Indigenous nations, and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation (NWTMN) land claim negotiations.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations of Canada, alongside Garry Bailey, President of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, Arthur Beck, Acting President of the Fort Resolution Métis Government, Trevor Beck, President of the Hay River Métis Government Council, Allan Heron, President of the Fort Smith Métis Council, and the Honourable Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories, signed a framework agreement that will pave the way to their vision of self-determination—a prosperous, self-sufficient, healthy, unified and self-governing Northwest Territory Métis Nation.

The Self-Government Framework Agreement will guide negotiations toward a final self-government agreement as part of the NWTMN land claim negotiation process. It outlines the process for self-government negotiations, including governance of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation entities, legal status and capacity of Métis governments, administration of lands, Métis government finances, law-making authority, implementation plans, and elections for Métis government. It also supports the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories remain committed to renewing the nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationships with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

Quotes

"The Northwest Territory Métis Nation (NWTMN) is pleased to be entering into self-government negotiations under the Self-Government Negotiations Framework Agreement. The self-government negotiations will advance our Land Claim negotiations, which have been underway since 1996 and have been the missing component of our Land Claim negotiations. The negotiation process will enable the NWTMN to advance the self-determining rights and governance interests of our Indigenous Métis members and three Métis Councils. Building upon our successes to date, we now have the capacity to plan for our governance future.

The signing of the Self-Government Framework Agreement is a key aspect of the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The agreement sets the stage for the development of the NWTMN Constitution to govern the relationship between the NWTMN, the three Métis Government Councils and our Indigenous Métis members. Self-government will recognize the NWTMN and Métis Government Councils as law making authorities with the ability to continue delivering programs and services to our members consistent with the NWTMN Constitution. We have a lot of work ahead to engage our membership regarding self-governance options and negotiations with Canada and the GNWT. The Self-Government Framework Agreement is another positive step for the NWTMN Métis and clearly shows the Government’s commitment to finalizing an agreement with the NWTMN.”

Garry Bailey,  
President of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation

"The Fort Resolution Métis Government recognizes that self-government is critically important for our members as it will provide the authority for the Northwest Territories Métis Nation (NWTMN) and the Councils to effectively manage Métis land and finances, and to continue delivering programs and services to our Indigenous Métis members. The self-government framework agreement sets out matters for discussion and will provide us with an opportunity to develop the government-to-government relationship between the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the NWTMN. We have a lot of work ahead to engage our members and seek their input to inform negotiations. We look forward to commencing this negotiation process.”

Arthur Beck,  
Acting President of the Fort Resolution Métis Government

"After many years of perseverance and struggle, the Hay River Métis Government Council is pleased that we have reached an agreement on the Self-Government Framework Agreement and recognize we have lots of work to do. We look forward to working with our members to develop a Constitution and shape Northwest Territories Métis self-government, which will benefit Northwest Territories Indigenous Métis for future generations. We look forward to concluding a self-government agreement that will set out the self-governing powers and law-making authority of the Northwest Territories Métis Nation and Métis Councils, and continue to deliver much-needed programs and services to our members."

Trevor Beck,  
President of the Hay River Métis Government Council

"The signing of the Self-Government Framework Agreement is symbolically a significant step in Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories' recognition of our Métis Nation status as an Indigenous government. The signing of this agreement will enable the Fort Smith Métis Council to enhance our efforts to achieve an Indigenous Métis Government that will reflect our distinct identity and our ongoing contribution to Canada and the Northwest Territories. It will also enable the Northwest Territories Métis Nation and Métis Councils to be law-making authorities that can continue delivering programs and services to our members."

Allan Heron,  
President of the Fort Smith Métis Council

"Our government is committed to working with Indigenous leaders to support their right to self-government. Concluding a self-government agreement will advance reconciliation and recognize and affirm the treaty rights of the Northwest Territory Métis Nation. The framework agreement is an important milestone in this process. It is a testament to the work of all parties to find common ground and demonstrates the strength of the relationship we have built."

The Honourable Caroline Cochrane,  
Premier of the Northwest Territories

"Strong, self-reliant Indigenous nations that are able to govern effectively and fulfill their right to self-determination are critical to improving well-being and economic prosperity in northern Indigenous communities. Congratulations and thank you to President Garry Bailey, President Arthur Beck, President Trevor Beck and President Allan Heron for your leadership and determination. By signing this framework agreement today, our government is taking a fundamental step to advance reconciliation and transform our relationships with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation."

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

"Ensuring Indigenous governments are able to achieve self-governance is essential to reconciliation. My congratulations to the Northwest Territories Métis Nation on this historic milestone, and I look forward to seeing further progress made through this framework agreement."

Michael McLeod,
Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • Section 35 of Canada's Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes the Aboriginal rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

  • Today's announcement marks a key step in the ongoing negotiations to advance reconciliation under this framework agreement.

  • A framework agreement sets out the subject matter for negotiation and describes how negotiations will proceed. Negotiations will commence toward an agreement-in-principle, a detailed document that forms the basis of a final agreement and addresses most matters described in the framework agreement.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Ani Dergalstanian
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor  
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett,
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
819-934-2302
RCAANC.media.CIRNAC@canada.ca

Todd Sasaki
Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9168 ext. 15015
todd_sasaki@gov.nt.ca

President Garry Bailey
Northwest Territory Métis Nation
867-621-2767
president@nwtmetis.ca

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