The ratification of the Métis Nation of Alberta constitution is seen by leadership as the “missing piece” from “over 200-years” of “Métis individuals fighting for their communities,” says Audrey Poitras, president of the MNA.
The announcement on Thursday Dec. 1, revealed that 97 per cent of 15,729 members who participated voted in the affirmative.
President of the Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta Chuck Isaacs sees it as a positive development and recognizes that the hard work now begins to bring in the framework outlined in the constitution.
“Once the government is set up, then they (MNA) can work on long-term funding where they are not dependent on the government to provide funding agreements like one or two or three-years – they can actually go forward based on funding that is set up on an ongoing basis, where they can count on what they are going to receive next year and the year after,” says Isaacs.
In 2019, Ottawa and the MNA agreed on the nation’s right to self-governance. The final version of the constitution was approved at the MNA’s 94th AGM in August leading up to the ratification vote. The Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution is a step to self-governance.
“Now we can set up our own policy and it can be put right into the government, basically that this is how the precedent should work. And even if we don’t set up the precedent ourselves, someone will have a say in the federal government, how that precedent will work in the future.”
Going forward Isaacs sees nation-to-nation dialogue taking place as equals, for example the premier and the president of the MNA meeting as equals. He sees the ratification of the constitution as a positive for Métis people across Canada.
“Alberta has got a constitution. The other provinces are working on it – that don’t already have self-government agreements. The whole Métis Nation in the country will move forward. And it should be considered the same – you have the president of the Métis Nation and then you have the premier of the province; they sit equally at the same position.”
The Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution covers issues like the Métis Nation in Alberta, culture, language, land rights, setting up different branches of government including judicial and ombudsman, districts and district councils, and a citizen’s council with youth and women among the representation, having the exclusive power to enact laws.
The Métis Nation of Alberta has the largest membership among Canada‒Métis Nation Accord (2017) signatories. According to the 2021 national census, 127,475 people identified as Métis. Also, 52,780 people reported being a registered member of a Métis organization or Settlement. However, 9,805 (18.6%) indicated they were not members of the MNA.