Government of Canada introduces self-government bill with Métis Nation partners
June 21, 2023 (Ottawa, ON) — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Alberta
Today, with the support of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN-S), and the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) (the “Métis Governments”), the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations, announced the introduction of Bill C-53, An Act respecting the recognition of certain Métis governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, to give effect to treaties with those governments and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
The Bill delivers on commitments made in Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreements that were co-developed and signed with the Métis Governments in February 2023. In these agreements, Canada formally recognizes that each of these Métis Governments are the representative government of distinct Métis collectivities that possess an inherent right to self-government recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Canada also recognizes that each of these Métis Governments has jurisdiction in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal administration.
The agreements also commit Canada to negotiate a self-government Treaty with each Métis Government. Once these future self-government Treaties are negotiated and ratified by the respective Métis Governments and Canada, they will be given legal force and effect and constitutionally protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 through the legal framework in Bill C-53, if this legislation is passed by Parliament.
In 1982, Métis were expressly included as one of the “Aboriginal peoples of Canada” in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Over the last 40 years, the MNO, MN-S, and MNA have sought to put in place a Nation-to-Nation, government-to-government relationship with Canada. Bill C-53 supports this work.
This Bill is a key part of Canada’s commitment to advance work with Métis partners to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As highlighted in Budget 2023, Canada will continue its collaborative work to conclude self-government Treaties with the Métis Governments. This is a key step to realize their visions for self-determination and a better future for the citizens and communities they represent.
“This Bill is a critical step forward in our collaborative work with Métis Nation of Ontario, Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Alberta, to support and recognize their inherent right to self-government. These self-government agreements set the foundation for renewed relationships between Canada and each of these Métis Governments and will create new opportunities to build a brighter future for their citizens, however they see fit.”
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of R. v. Powley, which is the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision on Métis rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Powley case was advanced by the Métis Nation of Ontario to ensure we were no longer the ‘forgotten people.’ It is a testament to the hard work of our citizens and communities that we now have formal recognition of our Métis government by Canada. This legislation is reconciliation-in-action for tens of thousands of Ontario Métis and the Métis communities the Métis Nation of Ontario represents.”
President of the Métis Nation of Ontario
"Today, we are taking another important step in realizing the dreams and aspirations of our Métis ancestors. By working together with our relatives from the MNO and MNA, as Métis people always have, we now all have a renewed relationship with Canada that honours our unique position as a distinct Indigenous group in Canada. Today’s agreement also supports the on-going self-determination and self-government work already underway at the MN-S and ensures we have the means and space to create the strongest foundation for our future generations.”
Vice-President, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan
“For almost a century, our citizens and Métis communities in Alberta have come together, with the vision of Louis Riel in their hearts, to build the Métis Nation of Alberta as their Métis government. With the recent ratification of our Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution and the formal recognition of our Métis government by Canada, this legislation is vital to putting in place an enduring nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with the federal Crown through a modern-day Treaty.”
President of the Métis Nation of Alberta
Building on earlier progress, the parties announced the signing of Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreements on February 24, 2023.
The core self-government agreements do not deal with land, harvesting or land related rights.
The self-government Treaties contemplated will only deal with core governance matters that are internal to each Métis Government.
The goal is to conclude negotiations with each Métis Government on their self-government Treaty.
There will be three self-government Treaties in total, one with each Métis Government, which would be protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Agreements set out the steps that must be completed before such a future self-government Treaty can be put into effect through the proposed legislation. This includes approval of their negotiated Treaty by the Métis Governments and by Canada.
If additional areas of jurisdiction or matters that may affect other Indigenous groups are negotiated in the future, appropriate Crown consultations will be undertaken.
Once all steps are completed, a future effective date for their self-government Treaty must be agreed to by the parties and set by an Order in Council.
Canada is committed to working in partnership with each Métis Government to make progress on our shared priorities for reconciliation for the benefit of their citizens and all Canadians.
For more information, media may contact:
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Métis Nation of Ontario & Métis Nation of Alberta
MN–S Senior Communications Officer
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