Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Métis Nationalism - Let's Move Forward

The history of the Métis is often being defined by others and it is a consistent battle that Métis have been challenged with for generations. We need to continue to be defined by ourselves – “Otipemisiwak” - our work; our words; our vision; our dreams and where we want to be. In stating that – we are putting out a request to continue with that work.

Signs of Métis Nationalism began in the 1700’s and carried on to the Battle of Seven Oaks in the early 1800’s. Our forefathers worked on Nationalism on their own terms; their own resources and based on their own passion and will. We want to try and begin looking at the true nature of those principles and work to move our “Nationalism” forward.

As contemporary Métis – where are we going? As our new generations of Métis continue to grow in a very vibrant multi-cultural country – it is our responsibility to work on the forward thinking of moving our culture and heritage forward. Our Métis Nationalism will be based on the legacy that we leave for those Métis generations of the future.

Here is the challenge:

Our forefathers did some integral and detailed acts without government resources or funding to move Nationalism forward for us – I believe that in doing that they were able to control their own destiny and set the direction that we today still remind people of when we challenge courts for our Métis rights. A Métis Agenda can only be defined by the Métis. We want to coordinate a meeting – with our own contributions and resources – to begin working on defining where Métis Nationalism is going in the future,

The purpose of the meeting will be to brainstorm and bring forward ideas and concepts that can be taken forward to all Métis from the grassroots – including the Métis leaders.

We are looking for Métis individuals who are willing to get together in a National meeting – at a central location – probably somewhere in Saskatchewan – to brainstorm and bring forward ideas on how to move Métis Nationalism forward. There will be no government funding but we will work on coordinating the meeting based on contributing what we have. There are many individuals that have a great deal to contribute in knowledge, experience and in the political will to move us forward. We encourage all of them to come forward and look at joining together to assist us in coming up with some concepts that help our leaders and the leaders of the future in moving forward our nation.

Now before I go much further – I will answer a question that will be in most of your minds – what is in it for me? I can only answer this based on my thoughts and that is – what was in it for our fore fathers? The only thing that is in it for me is that as a Métis woman – it is my responsibility to leave my culture, heritage and future of the nation for my descendents. It will cost me personally to be involved both financially and personally – but my reward will be the young people who will come after us and work toward a vision of the Métis Nation in the future.

In the present, I am hoping that it will also work towards bringing today’s Métis leaders focus back to the challenges in front of us – not challenging each other. I would like to see a grassroots movement bring the passion back to our Nation and have the will of the grassroots people be what brings us out of the present quagmire that we have been watching for the past two years. I like to be the eternal optimist – and maybe that is what I am being – either way being a part of a solution is better then being a part of the problem.

Anyone who is interested is invited to put forward their names so that we can begin the coordination of a meeting. Send an email to and we will begin building a list of names and resources that will help us coordinate such a gathering. We will work on gathering available resources and keep everyone informed of the event through this blog as we have more details. We are hoping to have the meeting before the end of this coming summer.

Everyone’s ideas and concepts will be valued and welcomed. No one of us has all the answers and we need to work together to succeed.

Metis Veterans in BC

Métis Nation British Columbia

Press Release

Date: Monday, April 28th, 2008
For Immediate Release

Métis Veterans Committee Formally Established

(Vancouver, BC) – Métis Nation British Columbia’s (MNBC) took an important step this past week to initiate the first ever recognized standing committee for Métis veterans.

The meeting was held between a number of Metis veterans and MNBC Executive to pursue the formal establishment of a standing committee. An initial set of Terms of Reference (TOR) that outlined the roles and responsibilities was established. As a result the Métis veterans committee will work with the MNBC Board of Directors and the Métis Nation Governance structure. The Métis veterans committee will establish a communications strategy and identify the ceremonial role of Métis veterans in the Regional Governance Councils, Métis Nation Governing Assembly, MNBC Annual General Meetings, and other forums as mutually agreed with the MNBC Minister Responsible for Veterans. The committee will also work to support a uniform Métis identification process and establish representation requirements regarding Métis veterans in British Columbia.

MNBC Minister Responsible for Veterans Mr. Rene Therrien stated, “Métis veterans must be recognized and included within the Métis Nation British Columbia. Our role is to support their communication and identification needs. MNBC has set up the central registry to ensure that any identified Métis veterans will be automatically provided contact information regarding the Métis veterans committee.”

Métis veteran and standing committee chairperson Walter Koenders commented, ”I am honoured to be the first appointed chairperson for the Métis veterans committee. As Métis veteran we seek inclusion within the Métis Nation. I will assist MNBC ensure the long-term success of this committee.

MNBC President Dumont added, “MNBC and the standing committee have to complete a number of items over the next few months. I will ensure that MNBC officials work to support a new proposal to the Federal Government and seek new ways to support our Métis veterans throughout British Columbia. They deserve this respect and recognition for the commitment to their Métis community and this great country.”

MNBC and twelve Métis veterans have established an initial standing committee Terms of Reference. Work will be completed over the next few months to establish a communications strategy, standing committee governance, and define Métis veterans.

Please view the MNBC website to review the initial standing committee Terms of Reference.

Media Contact:
Keith Henry
Chief Executive Officer
Métis Nation British Columbia
Ph:(604) 801-5853

Monday, April 28, 2008


You asked today – why is it so quiet? You know the olé adage “No News is Good News” – I guess it was too quiet …. Below you will see a letter from the Métis Nation of British Columbia. In my view we seen Clem’s election speech – for those of you that forgot – it can be found on the MNC website – he talked about “THE KEY TO SELF-GOVERNMENT, IN MY VIEW, IS TO CONTINUE WITH OUR NATION-BUILDING EFFORTS AND THE POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS THAT COME WITH IT.”…. “AT THE SAME TIME, THE MÉTIS NATIONAL COUNCIL LEADERSHIP MUST WORK CLOSELY WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE GOVERNING MEMBERS …”

Bruce Dumont from the Métis Nation of British Columbia on August 1, 2007 of last year said, "My priority is to ensure that the Métis Nation works together to elect a national President at the upcoming MNC General Assembly. Meanwhile, we have much work to do in strengthening our relationship with the federal government and in that regard I will be pressing for an early meeting with the Hon. Jim Prentice, Federal Interlocutor for Métis." and shared words about Nation Building when he campaigned in February.

We are going into May – almost 3 months later and we are still not building nations.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clément Chartier
Métis National Council (MNC)
Suite 201, 350 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ont.
K1R 7S8

Re: Métis National Council Board of Governor Meeting April 29th and 30th, 2008

Dear MNC President Chartier,

I am writing to provide further clarification in relation to the current Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) leave of absence notification provided on March 3rd, 2008.

MNBC leadership remains adamant that MNBC will not participate at the MNC Board of Governors or any of the various MNC committees’ until the issues identified in MNBC correspondences dated March 3rd and March 10th, 2008 are fully addressed in writing. MNC responses in March dated March 19th and March 28th, 2008 did not clarify the MNBC governance and administrative concerns.

Therefore MNBC continues to seek clarification in writing regarding the original six issues:

1. MNBC remains concerned regarding the corporate stability and lack of transparency related to the financial affairs of the Métis National Council Secretariat Inc. MNBC raised considerable dissatisfaction with the 2006-2007 MNC Secretariat Inc. Financial Statements in November 2007 by submitting two official MNBC communications dated November 1st, 2007 and November 15th, 2007. MNBC did not receive full disclosure or transparency regarding the questions identified in the MNBC correspondences. The MNBC letters in November raised serious questions in relation to possible MNC overpayments. MNBC has been made aware of possible overpayments regarding MNC expenditures and there has been no clear answers or clarification from the MNC. As a non-founding member MNBC is requesting you as the President to clarify whether or not there are any overpayments regarding any of the funding administered by the MNC. MNBC is requesting a response in writing and if there are any overpayments, MNBC is seeking clarification on the amounts in question and the Contribution Agreements affected.

2. MNC was officially placed in default by Health Canada in January 2008. What steps have you as the MNC President initiated to address the issues that have placed the MNC in default? Are you prepared to outline the issues in writing with the MNC Board of Governors that caused the default to occur? Please explain. Furthermore as part of the Health Canada agreement MNBC leadership expressed serious concerns in regards to the Health Canada Agreement and specifically the Aboriginal Health Human Resource Initiative (AHHRI) and Aboriginal Health Transition Funds (AHTF). MNC signed the Health Canada Agreement in August 2006 on behalf of the Métis Nation Governing Members, including the MNBC. MNC utilized the Health Canada Agreement to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the MNBC on May 23rd, 2007. Currently MNC has not met its payment schedule responsibilities identified in Clause 15 of the MoU to support the MNBC AHHRI or AHTF contributions. As a result MNC currently owes MNBC approximately $207 000.00 for this fiscal year and MNBC is seeking clarification to how MNC will address this serious issue. MNBC has fully committed the MNC MoU resources on specific investments including a number of Métis student health scholarships.

3. MNC currently has an outstanding list of payables in January 2008 that totaled approximately $3.1 million and very few of the MNC Contribution Agreements were signed for this fiscal year (2007-2008). What steps are you taking to address the outstanding payables? Please explain.

4. MNBC is unaware of MNC support or any strategy for the Post 2009 Métis Human Resource Development Agreement (MHRDA) program with Service Canada. The MHRDA is very important to the MNBC and the 1000 employment and training clients we serve each year. According to the 2006-2007 MNC Secretariat Inc. Financial Statements MNC utilized resources from Service Canada to support work in the area of employment and training. MNC typically utilized the annual allocation to organize the MHRDA technical working group that is composed of representatives from the Métis Nation Governing Members including the MNBC. There have been no demonstrable efforts made by the MNC this past year to support MNBC’s policy needs for Post 2009. The timeline to meaningfully negotiate MHRDA services delivered by the Métis Nation British Columbia is limited. Service Canada is developing a submission to cabinet regarding the Post 2009 process shortly. What steps are you as the President taking to address this very important file?

5. MNBC is very concerned about existing MNC Secretariat Inc. legal challenges. During the recent Métis National Council General Assembly you were elected the new leader. However, during your acceptance speech you did not clarify your position in relation to the current lawsuit that you have brought against the MNC itself last August 2007. As a non-founding member MNBC would like you to provide your position in relation to the current lawsuit. Are you still seeking alleged damages? MNBC does not support any settlement.

6. MNBC is also concerned that one of the Founding Members (Manitoba Métis Federation) was also involved in the legal action brought against the MNC Board of Governors last August. Has there been a request by MMF President Chartrand for reimbursement of legal costs to support your case? MNBC does not support any such requests for costs.

Until these six areas of concern are fully addressed in writing MNBC will not participate with the MNC Board of Governors or any of the MNC committees. Once again I want to remind you that MNBC leadership has respectfully requested MNC not to speak on our behalf until all such matters are resolved. Further MNBC efforts have been made to clarify amounts owed to MNBC regarding the Health Canada agreements with MNC officials in April (outlined in concern number 2). It is unfortunate that MNC officials have not provided any response to MNBC concerns from a technical level.

MNBC has since established a formal process to review MNBC’s role as a Métis National Council Non-Founding member and requires full disclosure to the written responses that outline the six areas of concern. MNBC has initiated a four-step plan to determine the future relationship with the MNC and the responses are part of our proposed review. The MNBC process ensures Métis governance involvement within our recognized structure. The MNBC is proceeding as follows:

Step One – Present MNC information to the MNBC training session delegates February 29th, 2008 for initial discussion and review. MNBC training session delegates will be requested to present during the next available Métis Chartered Community meeting to seek further community direction for MNBC leaders. MNBC will send an official letter taking an immediate leave of absence from the MNC Board of Governors and all MNC committee’s if there is initial consensus with the training session delegates regarding the overall strategy. The training session includes the majority of the Métis Chartered Community Presidents.

Please note the majority of Métis Nation British Columbia leadership has approved this step in
attendance at that meeting.

Step Two – MNBC President and support staff attends a Regional Governance Council meeting in each of the MNBC regions during April and May 2008 to seek an official mandate through formal resolution. This step will not occur before April to enable sufficient time for the Métis Chartered Communities to review the MNC information provided during the Training Session and therefore be better prepared to discuss at the Regional Governance Council.

Please note that MNBC leadership is currently completing this process. The recent MNC responses are being shared with the seven Regional Governance Councils to ensure MNBC leadership is absolutely transparent about the current situation. Therefore further MNC responses to MNBC’s six areas of concern are important.

Step Three – MNBC leadership will have two options based on the outcome of all seven Regional Governance Council meetings:

Scenario A (terminate relationship): MNBC will communicate with required Federal Government officials at Heritage Canada, OFI, Health Canada, and Service Canada that MNC does not speak on behalf of MNBC and its Métis citizens. Furthermore, that MNBC will be presenting an official resolution at the MNBC Annual General Meeting in September 2008 to formally terminate the MNC relationship.

Scenario B (continue relationship): MNBC Board of Directors will accept the direction and reengage formal communication roles with the MNC Board of Governors.

Step Four (If necessary) – MNBC will draft the formal resolution to terminate the relationship at the MNBC Annual General Meeting (AGM) set for September 2008. MNBC will present to the MNBC AGM delegates. If approved MNBC will send a letter immediately to MNC as required in the MNC Secretariat Inc. bylaws.

Therefore it is important for you as the MNC President to respond directly to the identified MNBC concerns. MNBC requests for responses in writing are very important and MNBC is committed to fully reviewing and informing our governance structure. The current MNC non-responses to the six issues are sending an unfortunate message to the Métis citizens of British Columbia that will certainly have an affect on the outcome of the current review process.

Thank you,
Bruce Dumont
cc Métis National Council Board of Governors
Métis Nation British Columbia Board of Directors
MNBC Métis Chartered Communities

A message to all my leaders is, that leadership is about the development of dynamic relationships - influencing the development of partnerships, of mutual respect, common purpose, moral development that affect change and the cooperation of collaborating. If we are to go back now – we recognize the areas of mistrust and the exercise that will be required to find the common purpose necessary to begin the process of becoming effective. Building nations is about going beyond the call…

Let us hope that we do not continue to divide the nation – bring truth back to the table and work to overcome your past.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

David Chartrand’s Rendition of a Meeting

Métis Mama is grateful to MMF Chartrand because if it were not for these small glimpses – the Board of Governors would not be informed of the activities of President Chartier and himself. There is a Board of Governors meeting next week – first one since July 31, 2007 – and this is the first report or information flow since the February election. Hopefully, people start communicating better soon….

Message from the President-April 24, 2008

Since we last spoke, Metis National Council President Clément Chartier and I have met with Minister Chuck Strahl. Minister Strahl leads the Federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and is also the Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. It was a positive discussion of topics including embarking on a new relationship and a working partnership.

Following our meeting with the Minister we again met with the Assistant Deputy Minister and senior staff from the Office of the Federal Interlocutor to discuss the next steps in building this new relationship. For all parties, Metis Governance and Metis Economic Development are among the key issues and priorities in moving forward.

This past week, while in Ottawa for meetings, I had the opportunity to attend a hearing on the issue of Bill-292 that was being held by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. Bill-292 is also known as the Act to Implement the Kelowna Accord. As you recall, the Accord was the unprecedented result of the historic November 2005 First Ministers Meeting.

Senator Gerry St. Germain, a fellow Metis Nation Citizen, chaired the meeting of the Committee. President Chartier had been invited to provide our Metis perspective and he gave an excellent briefing to the Committee concerning the need to implement the Accord. Having passed in Committee, it is our understanding that Bill-292 will be forwarded to Senate without revision and will be subject to a vote.

The Accord is a commitment by all governments – Federal, Provincial and Aboriginal – to achieve results to close the gap between the expectations of Canadians and the reality lived by aboriginal peoples throughout Canada. It is a commitment that recognizes the distinctions-based approach is necessary to deal effectively with the issues.

In his briefing, President Chartier also discussed the importance of our Canada-Metis Nation Framework Agreement, signed in May 2005, as a foundation for the Kelowna Accord. It offered a partnership based on mutual respect, responsibility, and sharing. These principles are essential.

We look forward to working in partnership with both Canada and Manitoba in our goal to close the gap. There must not be any further delays. The future health of our Metis Community – Our Children, Women and Elders – depends on acting now. Today is the time to act. Not tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Manitoba Urban Native Housing Association is pleased to announce the completion of the ‘Winnipeg Aboriginal Housing Plan’

The Institute of Urban Studies in collaboration with Manitoba Urban Native Housing Association EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The recommendations and strategy advanced within this document are the result of a series of consultations that included the Manitoba Urban Native Housing Association membership, the general public, Canadian Aboriginal housing providers and a review and assessment of relevant documents.

Above all, this report was guided by the need to protect and enhance access to quality affordable housing for Aboriginal persons and families in Winnipeg.

Some of the key findings of this report include the fact that MUNHA organizations collectively represent a tremendous asset within Winnipeg. It is estimated that the assessed value of the MUNHA housing stock is approximately $44 million dollars with a market value that could range from $50 – $70 million.

The value of the housing stock is however undermined by the estimated $12 million that is needed to make repairs to an aging stock that needs greater repair. This is further exacerbated by the fact that a high percentage of units exceed 100 years, requiring more and extensive upgrades and repairs.

One of the key drivers of the current challenge is also dealing with the high demand for MUNHA housing in Winnipeg and as a result, for every unit of housing that is currently occupied, there are an additional two persons on a wait list (this does not count their families).

The End of Operating Agreements

Simply put there is no greater uncertainty than that of the end of operating agreements. All MUNHA members will and are facing the end of operating agreements. Those who currently receive subsidies greater than their mortgage will need to develop a strategy to deal with this.

The challenge in the operating agreements is that they will expire slowly over the coming decades, ending in 2040.

No housing plan or strategy can be fully developed nor implemented without some means to better understand the impact of end of operating agreements on individual MUNHA members and on individual properties.

The Current MUNHA Housing Stock

Collectively, the MUNHA members operate about 950 units within the city of Winnipeg. However, with a forecast population growth of 34,000 or a percent change in population of 58 percent between now and 2026, the need to expand the available number of units within Winnipeg will need to grow. This report suggests that conservatively 400-600 units would be needed to maintain the existing capacity.

A challenge facing the MUNHA membership is not only that of end of operating agreement but also that of maintaining an older stock of housing that will continue to require substantive capital investment.

Many of the MUNHA units are single family detached which also makes capital investment more challenging and expensive. The importance of the capital reserve fund will continue to play a central role and one that will likely become even more important as the units continue to age.

Exacerbating the capital investment situation is the fact that when all mortgages expire on MUNHA housing approximately one third of the stock will be over 100 years old, making the need to have a replacement strategy critical.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Congratulations - Gary Lepinski - President of the Metis Nation of Ontario

Candidates in the MNO Election Announced

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 -- MNO Press Release

OTTAWA, ON --- Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Chief Electoral Officer, Lawrence Gladue, today announced the candidates for the May 5, 2008 election of the MNO’s three province-wide governing institutions: The Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario- (PCMNO); the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth (MNOY); and, the Métis Nation of Ontario Veteran’s Council (MNOVC).

Thirteen candidates, of the 30 elected positions have been acclaimed.

Elections for the contested positions of the PCMNO Vice-Chair, the PCMNO Regional Councillors for Regions 1 and 7 will be held as scheduled on May 5, 2008. The advance poll will be held on May 3, 2008. All poll stations will be open from 9:00am to 8:00pm in each relevant time zone.
The following candidates were acclaimed:

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Executive

Gary Lipinski, President

France Picotte, Chair

Tim Pile, Secretary-Treasurer

Provisional Councillors of the Métis Nation of Ontario

Region 2: Cameron Burgess (incumbent)

Region 3: Marcel LaFrance

Region 4: Ann Trudel

Region 5: Maurice Sarrazin (incumbent)

Region 6: Jo-Ann Wass

Region 8: Charlie Fife

Region 9: Peter Rivers

Post-Secondary Representative,
PCMNO Anita Tucker (incumbent)

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNOY)
Joni Labbé, Region 4

Métis Nation of Ontario Veteran’s Council
Elmer Ross, Senator

The following are the candidates of the contested positions:

PCMNO Vice-Chair:

Sharon McBride
Brent McHale
Eric Scofield

PCMNO Regional Councillors:

Region 1: George Sinclair
Region 1: Theresa Stenlund

Region 7: Pauline Saulnier (incumbent)
Region 7: Allan Vallée

The following offices are vacant (no nominations or incomplete nominations)

PCMNO Youth Representative

MNOY Regional Councillors: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9

MNOVC President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer, Women’s Representative, and Youth Representative.The date and time for the election for the vacant positions will be announced following the completion of the MNO Elections. MNO Electoral Code, Article 9.1 states: If after the close of nominations there are offices that are vacant, the Chief Electoral Officer shall, by May 15th, announce in writing that elections to fill any such vacancies will be held at the next Annual summer assembly.

OTTAWA --- Newly acclaimed Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski today expressed his congratulations to all members of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) which were acclaimed today in an announcement by MNO Chief Electoral Officer Lawrence Gladue and wished best of luck to all those candidates who are seeking office within the contested positions.

“I am extremely honoured to be elected by such a strong endorsement of the Métis people across the province. I look forward to working with all members of the PCMNO and Community Councils to establish our direction for this next term and continue the momentum that former President Belcourt has established in the past 15 years.” stated Lipinski.

Lipinski further stated “This next term, which officially begins May 6th following the election of the contested positions, will be very exciting for the Métis of Ontario. With the recent announcement by the Provincial Government on establishing a Framework Agreement we can expect that the Métis Nation in Ontario will continue to move our agenda forward in the best interests of our people. I would like to offer personal congratulations to other members of the Executive who I have worked closely with in the past, France Picotte, newly elected Chair and Secretary Treasurer incumbent Tim Pile.”

President Lipinski started his political career as a councillor on the Sunset Country Métis Council Gary expressed his vision for Métis people within Ontario and gradually progressed through the political structure becoming Region 1 Councillor and in 1999 was elected as Chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario of which he held until this current election. In addition to the elected positions that Lipinski held, he also sits on various Provincial and National Committees representing the Métis People of Ontario and was an integral part of the battle for Métis Rights including the landmark Powley case concerning the right to hunt.

The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique culture, language and heritage, and with an ancestral Homeland that centres around Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, parts of the Northwest Territories, as well as the northwestern United States. The Métis played an instrumental role in the shaping of Canada, and work tirelessly to share their culture, music, traditions and knowledge of the environment with their fellow Canadians. Today, the Métis live, work, raise their families and pay taxes in communities all across Canada.

For further information:

Katelin Peltier
MNO Manager of Communications
Tel: 613-798-1488 ext. 108
Cell: 613-859-7130 E:

Monday, April 21, 2008

More on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Canada Continues Offensive Campaign Opposing UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

News Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 17, 2008 Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver - In a statement delivered to a meeting of the Organization of American States Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (" OAS Working Group") in Washington DC, the Canadian Government has declared that it will no longer actively participate in negotiations on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("Draft American Declaration").

Canada has formally reserved its position on the final text under negotiation. However, if the final document "does not adequately address Canada's concerns", Canada has indicated that it would attempt to block consensus unless two conditions are met: the document adopted clearly indicates that Canada does not support it and that there is an explicit understanding that the text therefore does not apply to Canada.

In doing so, Canada has continued its offensive campaign against the rights of Indigenous people in Canada and around the world by maintaining its rejection of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ("United Nations Declaration") as the "starting point or minimum outcome for further negotiations" on the Draft American Declaration. "

In its statement to the OAS Working Group, the minority Conservative government has again demonstrated immense disrespect for the human rights of indigenous peoples", said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit political executive. "Canada's attempts to "pick and choose" which human rights standards apply to it violate the rule of law in Canada and threaten the international human rights system. We urge the Canadian government to play a constructive role in deliberations on the Draft American Declaration, to drop its unreasonable conditions and to not block consensus on the final text."

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the United Nations Declaration on September 13, 2007. Canada was one of only four States to vote against the United Nations Declaration.

The rights recognized by the United Nations Declaration constitute the "minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world". The majority of American States have supported the use of the United Nations Declaration as the baseline for negotiations on the Draft American Declaration.

Canada's statement to the OAS Working Group directly defies the motion passed by a majority of Parliamentarians in the House of Commons on April 8, 2008 calling upon the Government of Canada to endorse the United Nations Declaration, and for Parliament and the Government of Canada to "fully implement the standards contained therein".

"OAS member states have a duty to ensure the minimum standards set out in the United Nations Declaration are upheld in the draft American Declaration" stated A-in-chut (Shawn Atleo), Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations. "BC First Nations urge the Government of Canada to continue working with OAS member states and indigenous peoples to build on the important foundation of international human rights standards set out in the historic United Nations Declaration. Let us work together to leave a legacy for future generations that we can all be proud of."

"Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to wantonly exploit the lands and resources of the indigenous peoples of this country. It is despicable to witness the lengths governments and companies have gone to use Canadian courts to jail Indigenous people for protecting their territories," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "We call on the entire international community to witness that Canada has prosecuted and imposed jail terms on indigenous leaders of the Agonquin Ardoch and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nations for their efforts to protect the birthright of their children and human rights of their peoples. Once again, at the international level, Canada has disgraced itself by demonstrating its racist and highly prejudicial attitudes towards the land and human rights of Indigenous Peoples here in Canada and throughout the world."

The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.

For more information please contact:

Grand Chief Edward John 778-772-8218 First Nations Summit Political Executive
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip President, UBCIC: 250-490-5314
Ryneld Starr BC Assembly of First Nations

UN Experts Welcome Canada’s Backing for Indigenous Rights Declaration

18 April 2008 – A group of independent United Nations human rights experts has lauded the endorsement given to a landmark declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples by the House of Commons in Canada – one of four States that voted against its adoption in the General Assembly last year.

In a statement issued today, the experts welcomed the motion adopted on 8 April by the House, regarding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and relating to the call for Parliament and Government to fully implement its provisions.

“We are convinced that the standards and principles set forth in the Declaration will constitute a useful road-map for Canada's future laws and policies with regard to Aboriginal peoples, and will help improve their human rights situation,” the experts said.

"The Legislature's commitment to put the provisions of the UN Declaration into practice is a powerful sign for indigenous peoples in Canada and in other countries,” they added.

Adopted by the 192-member General Assembly last September, the Declaration outlines the rights of the world's estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlaws discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

Canada, along with Australia, New Zealand and the United States, voted against the non-binding text, which sets out rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The action by Canada's House of Commons is among recent steps taken by States to give effect to the Declaration, the group stated, noting that Bolivia and Ecuador recently gave legal force to the Declaration by enacting legislation. Similar initiatives are being discussed in other countries.

The statement was signed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Rodolfo Stavenhagen; the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Miloon Kothari; the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène; and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

United Nations Declaration on Human Rights

I felt that it was important to identify the significance of the United Nations work in relation to United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We received a post in relation to minimizing this issue to the Indigenous people of Canada. In my view – that is marginalizing a global issue and looking at a beach and only addressing the issues of one grain of sand.

Canada’s objection to the declaration is specifically around Article 3 – which reads:

Article 3: Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

The three countries with the largest Aboriginal populations – Canada, United States and Australia are not willing to let Indigeneous people determine their own political status or allow them to pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

In many countries Human rights defined as the supposed "basic right and freedoms in which all humans are entitled." Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education. (As defined by the Wikepedia Free Encyclopedia)

These are the minimum standards that the world, on a global scale has promoted for all human beings. In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted in 1982.

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This is not the case in many countries in the world. There are many examples all over the world where Indigenous people still live under threat of things like sexual abuse, intimidation, kidnapping, forced confinement, forced sterilization, torture and death. The United Nations working together to identify a means of identifying a standard to treat people fairly should not be taken lightly.

In 1948 the United Nations responded to many of the barbaric acts that were a part of World War II and passed a resolution for the Declaration of Human Rights. It urges the members of the United Nations to promote human, civil, economic and social rights as a foundation for freedom, justice and peace throughout the world. The members of the United Nations, which Canada is one has a responsibility to live up to this declaration. The United Nations identified as part of the preamble to 1948 declaration “...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Canada and the United States were very instrumental in moving this declaration forward.

The Human Rights Declaration includes the basic principles of dignity, liberty, equality and brotherhood. It deals with the rights of individuals and the rights of individuals in relation to others as well as, the spiritual, public, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of people. This declaration was adopted unanimously by all the member countries involved at that time with three countries abstaining on the vote.

This 1948 declaration identifies the people’s rights to self-determination and sovereignty over their natural resources. The now Declaration for Indigenous Rights clearly reaffirms these rights for Indigenous people from around the world.

In the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms the following section clearly identifies the issues related to some of the collective, historical rights of Aboriginal people.


25. The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal people of Canada including

(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and

(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired. “

The entire Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people

The Canadian government needs to respect the democracy of the House of Commons - because a majority vote in the House of Commons identified the Canadian support of the declaration and historically the principles of this country were made up from the belief that all human beings have rights collectively and individually that should be valued.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Harper Government International Embarrassment

On April 9, 2008 the National Aboriginal Leaders did a joint press release supporting the Canadian Government’s support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Democracy is an elusive thing – the House of Commons passed the motion to support the declaration by a majority vote and eight days later the Conservative government is working to block a Draft American Declaration which will veto a human rights document for Indigenous people. I guess the spirit in which the motion passed is seriously challenged if we are still in an International forum vetoing and not supporting the basic human rights of all people, including the Indigenous peoples of the world.

Harper Government International Embarrassment

April 17, 2008

OTTAWA – The Conservative government must stop trying to block the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Liberal Aboriginal Affair Critic Anita Neville and Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae said today.

“There is nothing subtle or measured in this government’s actions at the Organization of American States’ meeting taking place this week,” said Ms. Neville.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is working to pre-emptively veto a critical human rights document for indigenous peoples. This is the second time they have blocked a basic human rights document for indigenous peoples and it sends a message to Aboriginal Canadians that they do not matter.

” This week in Washington, Canada issued a statement indicating that the Conservative government has refused to accept a draft document because it is based on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“This is appalling. Even though Canada was one of only four nations to vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is now a human rights instrument. It is hypocritical of the Conservatives to claim that they are champions of human rights while claiming that the Declaration text does not apply to Canada and blocking the OAS draft statement,” said Ms. Neville.

The government brought shame on Canada’s international reputation when it voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last year. It was the first time Canada voted against a human rights document.

“If we are to maintain our international reputation we have to show leadership on human rights issues,” said Mr. Rae.

Mr. Rae noted that Canada has been an active participant in the negotiations on the OAS draft declaration since 1997.

“The government’s actions are putting the current process at risk. Canada should either get back to the table or end this international embarrassment,” said Mr. Rae.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Article from Law Times

This certainly looks like it will change the scope of how some of the Aboriginal land claims of the future will be addressed.

Supreme Court rejects massive land claim

By Robert Todd, April 14, 2008

The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously rejected an aboriginal land claim in a decision one lawyer calls a case of “willful blandness.”

The case involves land in southeast Edmonton that is now believed to be worth $2.5 billion.

"The government has stopped this matter from going to trial and literally closed the courthouse door on these people,” says Lang Michener LLP lawyer Eugene Meehan, chairman of the firm’s Supreme Court practice group who argued the Canada (Attorney General) v. Lameman case.

“This test case will be taken like a hammer, and jurisprudentially it’s going to look like a nail.”

Lawyer Mark Kindrachuk, who represented the Crown in the case, says lawyers should take note of the court’s emphasis in Lameman of summary judgment procedures and limitation periods in the aboriginal law context.

“What’s apparent here is that they’ve confirmed that limitations defences are legitimate and applicable in aboriginal cases, and even in cases founded on alleged breaches of treaty obligations,” he says.

The court said, “The facts are shrouded in the mists of time and some details are disputed,” but said the case dates back to 1877, when the Papaschase Indians as part of a treaty received a reserve in what is now southeast Edmonton. In 1886, Chief Papaschase and other band members traded their treaty rights and rights relating to the reserve for cash, wrote the court.

In 1889, three families the government believed to be remaining band members agreed to give up their interest in the reserve, and the government agreed to hold the proceeds of any sale of the land in trust to be paid to band members and their descendents, wrote the court. The people involved in this deal are believed to have joined the Enoch band, which the government paid in accordance with an 1894 deal involving two surviving band members who agreed to surrender the reserve.

In 2001, plaintiffs in the Lameman case, who claim to be descendents of Papaschase band members, began a court action against the government, claiming, among other things, that it had wrongfully allowed band members to “take scrip” without giving them a full view of the consequences of doing so, wrote the court. The allegations “gave rise to causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent and malicious behavior, and treaty breach,” wrote the court.

The Alberta trial judge found that the claim consisted of three triable issues: whether the reserve allotted to the band was of the proper size, whether the government correctly gave out money acquired during the sale of the reserve, and whether the band’s treaty rights to food had been contravened, wrote the court.

But the trial judge also found that the plaintiffs lacked standing, they were claiming collective rights of a band that no longer existed, and that they weren’t members of the band, wrote the court.The trial judge also found that the claims were barred by the Limitation of Actions Act, “with the exception of the claim for an accounting of any proceeds of sale the Crown might still have in its possession,” wrote the court.

However, a majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal found most of the plaintiffs’ issues were triable, wrote the court. The government appealed to the Supreme Court asking for dismissal of the court action in a summary judgment.

The SCC ruled the Limitation of Actions Act bars the claims, and “There is ‘no genuine issue’ for trial. Were the action to proceed to trial, it would surely fail on this ground.”

The court rejected the claim, “except for an accounting of the proceeds of sale, which is a continuing claim and not caught by the Limitation of Actions Act.

”The court noted that it previously found in Wewaykum Indian Band v. Canada that aboriginal claims are subject to rules on limitation periods. The court stated in that case: “Witnesses are no longer available, historical documents are lost and difficult to contextualize, and expectations of fair practices change. Evolving standards of conduct and new standards of liability eventually make it unfair to judge actions of the past by the standards of today.”

The court said that the applicable limitation period gave the plaintiffs six years, from as early as 1974, to bring forth their action.

“There is no explanation for how, as members of the Papaschase Descendants Council, they could have been unaware of these matters, with due diligence, when some Papaschase descendents were aware of the Enoch band’s claim.”

The court also noted that, “A summary judgment cannot be defeated by vague references to what may be adduced in the future, if the matter is allowed to proceed . . . A motion for summary judgment must be judged on the basis of the pleadings and materials actually before the judge, not on suppositions about what might be pleaded or proved in the future. This applies to aboriginal claims as much as they do to others.”

The court further wrote, “The summary judgment rule serves an important purpose in the civil litigation system. It prevents claims or defences that have no chance of success from proceeding to trial.

Trying unmeritorious claims imposes a heavy price in terms of time and cost on the parties to the litigation and on the justice system. It is essential to the proper operation of the justice system and beneficial to the parties that claims that have no chance of success be weeded out at an early stage.”

Meehan says, “The right to a trial is on trial here. A treaty is an ongoing obligation, and a breach of that treaty is therefore an ongoing breach. These very real people want a trial so they can be heard. The practical result is that they get no trial and not a single aboriginal voice got heard.”

But Meehan says perhaps the most important aspect of the judgment involves its interpretation of the division of powers.

“This judgment assumes, with no discussion, that provincial statutes apply to a federal jurisdiction,” he says, pointing to paragraph 14 of the ruling that states, “Pursuant to s. 13 of the Limitations Act, S.A. 1996 . . . aboriginal claims are governed by the previous Limitation of Actions Act.”“

By that single sentence, the provinces can now legislate in a federal jurisdiction,” says Meehan, “because Indians, and lands reserved by Indians, is an exclusive federal jurisdiction, pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act.”

The SCC may not have meant for the portion of its ruling to indicate that, Meehan says, “but that’s what the sentence says.”

“Some may say this is a narrow, technical decision,” he says. “Others may jurisprudentially say this is a case of wilful blandness.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

“Métis Youth as Leaders”

On a Metis website out of Ontario – there is a website that identifies Leadership Training for Métis Youth. You can find it at The youth after a brainstorming exercise identified a leaders as:

1. Someone who is in charge
2. Cares for peoples feelings
3. Doesn’t care what people think
4. An independent person
5. Describe a healthy relationship…
6. Loving, communication, trust, take turns, have fun together, like the same things, enjoy each others companies, no violence in any way.

Okay – So there may be hope for the future if this is even the starting point for our Métis youth – I think they may exceed our present situation.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Contemplation

There is truth - there is opinion and then there is just downright nasty personality politics…

I have been spending some time reflecting and wondering – where do issues stop being issues and when does our personality game just become the greatest detriment that exists. I have witnessed some things as of late that have the elders talking to me now. One elder advised me that it is important in the turbulent times not to react to the ego but be about the truth. Be honest to yourself and truthful to those people you encounter – that will be what will protect the leaders that should be protected.

I inquired – how do we let people know the truth without becoming a part of the mean spiritedness that we watch some of our fellow Métis get caught up in? I was told – stick to the truth – remember there may be more then one truth – and always know that the truth is what is going to help people to understand. I was also advised not to abuse the ability to communicate with people by making it about myself or by attacking individuals in their personal lives.

Now what does that mean for those of us who care to listen – I can not tell you what it means for any of you – I know that for me it is important to act with integrity, responsibility, honesty, truthfulness, respect and kindness. Many times I have wanted to attack personal issues as they relate to comments that digress from the topic. I am going to do my best not to react to the personality based issues that I witness on many publications and communication tools that I have seen lately. It is more important to stay focused on raising awareness of issues and telling the truth and demonstrating the truth.

Also, I do have opinions – I often identify that they are my opinions. Are my opinions always right? Absolutely not – but if they made individuals think – that is what is important. They give people cause for debate so they can be critical thinkers and have their own ideas. Other peoples opinions are important to me because they help me to look at issues from another side.

As for the issue of not one but several sites where non-Métis people enter into the debate of Métisism– I want to first say that I probably do not always understand why they would even want to. I have never had any great desire to enter into issues that do not effect me in some manner – but obviously they are impassioned about us and want to be part of the debate. I do recognize that the majority of non-Métis who participate in ‘fighting the cause’ are either individuals who have been friends of the Métis, sometimes through marriage or have worked for an organization or government that involved Métis issues and programming. The part that is disconcerting in relation to this is – every time we challenge this issue is because we do not like what that non-Aboriginal person has said – but yet when we are struggling and can not seem to find solutions for our problems – have you noticed it is non-Aboriginal people we seek intervention from? Just a thought.

I can only reflect on me and make sure the reasons I am acting are not on behalf of myself. I do not sit in judgment of those who seem to have other agendas or causes because they have their own truths. I do ask one question though – how do we ensure we are a part of the solution and do not become part of the problem? Just another thought.

I hope your day is warm, sunny and full of spring thoughts. For the Todd family in Manitoba and all those families that have suffered with loss lately – like the Lavallee family – my heart goes out to each of you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Metis News and Noteworthy

Martin, NDP and Opposition Vote Support for Indigenous Peoples Declaration

News Release for
Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 10:54AM

OTTAWA – Recognizing the urgency to address historical and present injustices, Sault MP Tony Martin, NDP and Opposition MPs voted 148-113 Wednesday to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and implement its standards.

Conservative MPs opposed the motion.
“This declaration outlines the minimum human rights standards necessary for the dignity, survival and well-being of the world’s indigenous peoples. It has been under discussion at the United Nations for more than two decades,” said Martin. “First Nations, Métis and Inuit people as well as many NGOs are pressuring Canada to support the Declaration and to ensure its passage during the 61st UN Assembly.”

““Ordinary people in Canada have seen first-hand the problems that arise when the government has the power to arbitrarily decide who is and isn’t an indigenous person. The Conservatives’ decision to not support the Declaration is a stain on our reputation around the world. ”

Before the vote, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, chairperson, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, wrote MPs to congratulate the Canadian Parliament for setting the stage for decision-making on what Canada should do with the UN Declaration.

“I strongly believe that the adoption and implementation of the Declaration will hasten genuine reconciliation efforts between governments and indigenous peoples. It provides a good impetus for governments to plan jointly with indigenous peoples on how peace, security, human rights and sustainable development can be achieved in indigenous peoples' territories.

Ontario ending centuries of discrimination with historic agreement: Metis

TORONTO — Centuries of discrimination will come to an end through a historic agreement with Ontario that helps pave the way for the Metis to set up their own health-care centres, children's services and even get a cut of the province's gaming revenues, Ontario's Metis Nation said Tuesday.

Tony Belcourt, head of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the Metis have been ignored and discriminated against for years in the province. Those attitudes, in turn, have been perpetuated by politicians and bureaucrats, he said.

But the Ontario government's willingness to negotiate a separate accord from other aboriginal groups allows the province's 73,000 Metis to finally be treated as a self-governing nation, he said.

"I can't underscore enough the importance of simply recognizing the Metis Nation in this province. Nobody but the Metis people has any idea of the impact that not being recognized has on our people," said Belcourt.

People have often ashamed to identify themselves as Metis for fear of discrimination at work or on the street, Belcourt said.

"The racial discrimination in this province against the Metis people has been palpable," he said.

"It's unfortunately reflected in attitudes of people who have been elected to (government) and the people who work as public servants over the years. What the government is doing today is, in fact, a bold step."

Saskatchewan leads the country with its own Metis act carved into legislation that includes a recognition of self-governance and system of revenue sharing. Alberta is the only other province with a signed framework agreement similar to the one Ontario is now negotiating.

Ontario Metis have a long list of priorities including revenue sharing, increased health-care services in northern communities and equal consultation on the exploitation of natural resources, Belcourt said.

"I don't for one second think it's going to be easy for the minister (of aboriginal affairs) to sell all his colleagues on some of the measures we're going to be pushing for," said Belcourt, adding that doesn't diminish the importance of simple recognition.

"This now allows us to hold our heads high. I've been fighting in the trenches for 40 years. I want to tell you, this is an amazing day."

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said the Metis have been ignored by the province for far too long. The Ontario legislature itself put a $5,000 bounty on the head of famed Metis leader Louis Riel 138 years ago, he said.

But with this separate accord, Bryant said the government is now recognizing the sovereignty of the Metis and starting to address their priorities - whether that be sharing gaming revenues or spelling out hunting and fishing rights.

It's part of a collaborative approach that's "new and overdue," Bryant said.
"It's recognition and respect," he said. "The absence of that in the past has meant an ineffective approach and an ad-hoc, responsive, defensive approach. This allows us to have a real relationship."

But critics say they aren't holding their breath.

Conservative Bob Runciman said entering negotiations with the Metis is a "good first step" that's been a long-time coming. The Liberals are good at making announcements with great fanfare but they are less successful at coming up with concrete results, he said.

"Before we start tossing bouquets, we want to see what the end result is," said Runciman, adding the Metis should have a signed agreement by the end of the year.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton said the Liberals' record is extremely poor when it comes to following through on their pledge to forge a new relationship with Ontario's aboriginal people.

By announcing they intend to start negotiations with the Metis, Hampton said the Liberals are just diverting attention away from the jailing of six aboriginal chiefs and councillors protesting a mining development in northern Ontario.

"I hope for the Metis nation of Ontario it becomes more than that," Hampton said. "But there was not much substance to this. It is basically an announcement to hold discussions about possible future discussions."

Remembering Laurent Garneau and Métis heritage

April 9, 2008 - Edmonton - When the University of Alberta opened its doors in 1908, it may have appeared there was little else on the south bank of the Saskatchewan River than a fledgling frontier town and howling coyotes. But as the life of Laurent Garneau attests, there was a rich history here before Henry Marshall Tory laid down his vision for the uplifting of the people.

Garneau, who homesteaded on land where the university now partly sits and owned a good part of Strathcona, was well known in the area as a successful businessman, Métis activist and accomplished fiddler.

After taking part in Louis Riel's Métis rebellion of 1869-70, Garneau left Manitoba with his family, arriving in Strathcona in 1874. There, he was arrested and imprisoned for six months for refusing to obey a martial law ordering inhabitants to take refuge in Fort Edmonton to protect them from an Aboriginal attack. Ironically it was Chief Papasschayo of the Papaschase tribe who took Garneau's family, including a wife and 11 children, under his wing.

Garneau went on to acquire much more wealth in fur trading, wood-cutting, ranching and land speculation; he even made charcoal for the Hudson Bay Company. But a land dispute forced him to move to St. Paul in 1896.

While dramatic, these details only scratch the surface of lives lived in the Edmonton area before the university broke ground.

"There is a tendency to forget, when we celebrate centenaries, that there was something else here before," said Nathalie Kermoal, organizer of a conference this week on Laurent Garneau and the Métis. "People were living here and helped to shape our history, and that legacy shouldn't be forgotten."

Kermoal says the conference is not designed only to examine "what went wrong" for the Métis in history, it's also about celebrating a valued legacy. "Garneau made a name for himself and was very involved in both the Métis and francophone communities," says Kermoal.

"He was an excellent musician, always in demand. He was also an astute businessman, owning cattle and a sawmill. And he was also a political person, fighting imperialism."

The Garneau conference, co-sponsored by Campus Saint-Jean's Canadian Studies Institute, the Faculty of Native Studies and the Association canadiennes-française de l'Alberta opens Thursday night at Alumni House. Friday it moves to Campus Saint-Jean to take up three areas important to Garneau in his own lifetime: art, social and economic development, and political and legal issues.

The program will include an exhibit of artwork by Laurent's great-great-grandson David Garneau and roundtable discussions on Métis land settlements, the pardoning of Louis Riel, the status of the Michif language (a combination of French and Cree), and Métis Aboriginal rights and identity. There will also be a performance Friday evening by the Métis Dance Group of Edmonton and La Girandole, a French-Canadian dance troupe.

Aside from looking back, says Kermoal, one purpose of this conference is to build stronger connections between today's francophone and Métis communities.
"It's a way to celebrate what the Métis have done, not only in Edmonton but also for Canadian history.

"Laurent Garneau's life illustrates the challenges that the Métis had to deal with in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

To register, contact Marie-Claude Levert at 485-8635 or email .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Metis looking forward to new status in Ontario

Province promises recognition that could lead to a self-governing nation

Posted By Doug Edgar

Change is in the wind for Metis in Ontario, with the provincial government agreeing to negotiate an accord that could see the province's 73,000 Metis treated as a self-governing nation.

“We’re just looking for our traditional rights” including those associated with gathering, hunting and fishing, Malcolm Dixon, president of the Grey Owen Sound Metis Council, said Wednesday.

Tony Belcourt, head of the Metis Nation of Ontario, said the Metis have been ignored and discriminated against for years in the province. Those attitudes have been perpetuated by politicians and bureaucrats.

“I can't underscore enough the importance of simply recognizing the Metis Nation in this province. Nobody but the Metis people has any idea of the impact that not being recognized has on our people,” Belcourt said Tuesday.

For years Metis — people of mixed European and native ancestry — weren’t really accepted by other native peoples or the predominantly white majority, Dixon said.

“Up to this point we’ve been kind of in the middle,” he said. “We got kind of passed by. Now people are becoming more and more aware of their history.”

Metis have been getting more recognition locally in recent years. They were formally informed about plans for a beefed-up high-voltage electrical corridor between the Bruce nuclear generating station and Milton, Dixon said, since it passes through “previously territorial” lands.

He also pointed out that the Ministry of Natural Resources returned fishing nets to Jim McLay of Port Elgin, the president of the Saguingue Metis council, earlier this year after seizing them more than two years ago while he was catching fish for a communal event.

Metis are most strongly associated with Manitoba and the west, which is where Dixon was born. In Ontario, they have been more prevalent in the north, but there is a Metis history in Grey-Bruce, Dixon said.

“There was a very large Metis population in this area,” he said. “Essentially they were driven off their lands.”

Saskatchewan has a Metis act carved into legislation that includes a recognition of self-governance and system of revenue sharing. Alberta is the only other province with a signed framework agreement similar to the one Ontario is now negotiating.

Ontario Metis have a long list of priorities including revenue sharing, increased health-care services in northern communities and equal consultation on the exploitation of natural resources, Belcourt said.

“I don't for one second think it's going to be easy for the minister (of aboriginal affairs) to sell all his colleagues on some of the measures we're going to be pushing for,” said Belcourt.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant said the government is recognizing the sovereignty of the Metis and starting to address their priorities - whether that be sharing gaming revenues or spelling out hunting and fishing rights.

It's part of a collaborative approach that's “new and overdue,” Bryant said.
“It's recognition and respect . . . The absence of that in the past has meant an ineffective approach and an ad-hoc, responsive, defensive approach. This allows us to have a real relationship.”

With files from The Canadian Press

Fontaine, Simon and Chartier Congratulate Canadian Parliament for their support of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Attention News Editors:

OTTAWA, April 9 /CNW Telbec/ - The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Mary Simon and the President of the Metis National Council Clement Chartier together announced their overwhelming support for yesterday's decision by the Canadian Parliament to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on April 8, 2008.

"I am very optimistic about the support demonstrated yesterday by Members of Parliament who voted on a motion that called for the government to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 13th September, 2007," Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations noted. "I am pleased that the majority of MPs showed their support for this internationally supported Declaration and I look forward to working with those supporters to implement the human right standards noted in the Declaration. I would also encourage all provincial and territorial governments to adopt motions of support for this very important Declaration like the Government of Northwest Territories did."

"The UN Declaration promotes minimum human rights standards necessary to the 'survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world.' These include the right of self-determination, protections from discrimination and genocide, and recognition of rights to lands, territories and resources that are essential to the identity, health and livelihood of Indigenous peoples," Mary Simon National Leader for Inuit of Canada stated. "That this Parliament now acknowledges this standard is an important touchstone in the relations between the government and the indigenous populations."

Clem Chartier, President of the Métis National Council also recognizes "the important step gained in the majority will of Parliament who represent the majority of Canadians to support a fundamental human rights instrument that bolsters the rights of all Indigenous peoples." "The Métis Nation in solidarity with all Indigenous peoples in Canada look forward to the full implementation of the Declaration at home," he said.

During the House of Commons debate over the resolution, government
spokespersons claimed that the Declaration would undo centuries of Canadian treaties with Indigenous peoples despite the fact that the UN Declaration explicitly states that treaties and other agreements with Indigenous peoples are to be respected.

The Declaration also contains numerous provisions which explicitly state that it is to be balanced against other human rights protections and interpreted in accordance with principles of democracy, good governance and respect for the rights of all.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada. ITK is the national voice of Canada's Inuit. The MNC represents Metis people in Canada.

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329,; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 2... ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382,; John Merritt, ITK, (613) 238-8181,

What are Clem and David Doing Today?

Now it is interesting .. I did some checking and I understand that the other Board of Governors are out of the loop. This was a thirty (30) minute interview with the Minister. We also notice that there is no mention on the Government of Canada websites about the meeting. Although there was a significant announcement today about the new Health program for First Nations and Inuit Youth – “Health Canada and NAHO Launch Innovative Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Web Site"

We would like to hope that the meeting is truly a move towards a better future....

“OTTAWA (April 8) – Métis National Council President Clément Chartier says he is encouraged by an emerging working partnership with the federal government.

Chartier made the comment after meeting with the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Chuck Strahl, earlier today. The meeting was also attended by David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

"The outcome of the meeting was very encouraging,’’ Chartier said. "And I am hoping for a successful partnership with the federal government."

Added Strahl: "I know the MNC has come through a difficult period. I am pleased that we are now moving forward on a new relationship together.’’

The meeting focused on the relationship with the federal government and the MNC in the aftermath of the recent election and development of a forward-looking process on key issues.

"The Métis Nation can look forward to some positive developments in the coming months in a process that started with today’s meeting with Chuck Strahl,’’ Chartier said.”

The Metis Nation of Ontario

The Metis Nation of Ontario is moving forward

The election is only a few weeks away - but Tony is still working hard for the Metis in Ontario.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008 -- Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs Press ReleaseImproving the quality of life for Métis people in Ontario is the aim of historic talks announced today by Michael Bryant, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and Tony Belcourt, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).

The new proposed Framework Agreement will also serve to further strengthen the relationship between the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Government of Ontario and make the engagement process more effective.

To support these discussions the Government of Ontario announced new funding of $200,000 toward development of the framework agreement.

QUOTES:“Today marks a watershed in the history of the Métis Nation and Ontario," said MNO President, Tony Belcourt. "It signals the beginning of a new era in which our relationship will now be based on respect of the Métis Nation, the recognition of the Métis consistent with our existing constitutional rights as one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, and the appropriate working relationship that will flow from this respect and recognition."

“Improving the quality of life for Métis people in Ontario is the aim of this historic path on which we are setting out together,” said Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Michael Bryant. “This next step in discussions truly reflects the social and political growth in the relationship between the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Government of Ontario.”


The Métis are one of the “Aboriginal peoples” named in Canada’s Constitution, the Constitution Act, 1982.

Ontario currently provides the Métis Nation of Ontario with more than $5 million in annual funding for programs and services.


CONTACT:Greg Crone, Minister’s Office, 416-606-8562
Merike Nurming, Communications Branch, 416-326-4079

Katelin Peltier, MNO Communications Manager, 613-859-7130

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Leaders or Politicians?

Tánt Kelley posted on a BC Métis website:

“…I have received comments that mention politicians versus leaders, or have said that the Metis Nation is too important to be left in the hands of politicians. These comments puzzled me somewhat until I started to research these issues. Well…lo’ and behold! It appears there is a vast difference between a politician and a leader.

The dictionary defines

A politician as;

1) a person active in party politics 2) a schemer who tries to gain advantage in an organization in sly or underhanded ways 3) a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics 4) a person who holds a political office. They may or may not have been elected.
A leader is defined as;

1) a person that leads 2) a person who rules or guides or inspires others 3) a person that is the most successful or advanced in a particular area.

Well the dictionaries definitely show us there is a difference between a politician and a leader! ...

….This difference between leaders and politicians definitely contributes to why there are seldom clear leading candidates in provincial and federal Metis politics. The result of this difference, sadly, leaves us Metis people more cynical than optimistic about the world in which we live. Put simply, the Metis are desperately lacking truly inspiring leaders.

Those who seek power and influence in politics are “plump and shiny” with ambition but, “toothpick scrawny” with leadership qualities. This has nothing to do with their desires to “do-good” and forward the Metis cause. I do not question their intentions to want to help, but as Dad always says “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”

This Métis person offers up some challenges and gives us food for thought. I encourage you to visit the website and read the entire post. Whoever she is – thank you. My question is – which ones are the leaders and which ones are politicians?

MNC – Letter writing campaign

There has been much speculation about the “sour grapes action” of the Métis Nation of British Columbia – but maybe we need to look at the letters posted on this site a few days ago and remember where this originated from.

There is a great deal of political rhetoric and smoke n’ mirrors that there needs to be some strainer trying to sift out the meaning of all of this.

The Métis Nation of British Columbia has held the path – they have worked collectively to decide what actions they will take. David and Clem in there letters have tried to indicate that the decisions around MNBC have been independent personal decisions of Bruce Dumont but in truth their Press Release clearly indicated that the decision was that of a meeting where their Board and representative of the Chartered Communities. This is a group of 40 or more people that sit collectively and represent the Métis Nation Governing Assembly (MNGA) of MNBC. Even the Provincial Board consists of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and 7 Regional Directors.

Now the question would be why would they decide that this move was in their best interest? Was it because they needed to create a new battle because Bruce Dumont did not win the leadership race? What is there motive?

Well if you spend some time looking at the previous correspondence coming from the MNBC they have held the course. Question after question and response after response has been about fair, equitable, transparent and accountable governance. Some of the recent letters in response have stirred the pot but they end with the same questions – accountability for the Métis citizens of British Columbia.

The personal attacks are abound in the documents that were sent between these parties and I for one believe that there is enough blame to go around but when it comes right down to it – fair, transparent and accountable governance is important to Métis across the homeland.

We also note that the misrepresentation of facts exists in some of the documents that are being transmitted but we already were aware that some of our leaders have distorted versions of truth that govern them. The more interesting part is that it boils down to money in most instances.

When Clem was directly asked about a law suit where we have clearly seen a ‘Statement of Claim’ and the response document a ‘Statement of Defense’ his response was, “I will address one of the issues in that letter as it relates specifically to my legal action against a number of corporate entities and individuals including yourself. I can state that I am prepared to settle the matters raised in the lawsuit amicably and in the spirit of cooperation that all of us committed ourselves to before the election.” Does that mean he advised the voting delegates at the AGM in Ottawa that he would proceed with a lawsuit and settle in a cooperative manner? The Statement of Claim is at Cybersmoke (

As everyone would be able to tell – I am no lawyer – but how do you sue yourself – especially now that you’re the head of the organization that you sued? Maybe it gives a new meaning to “settle the matters raised in the lawsuit amicably and in the spirit of cooperation”. Makes you think – so I should start an organization named – “Métis Mama Ride Again Inc.” – be the President - then ask for 10 million dollars in contractual agreements with the Federal Government of Canada – then sue the organization, but really only file a statement of claim – then negotiate amicably in the spirit of cooperation – then get $10 million dollars give or take a few pennies for the legal expense. Sounds like quite the deal – just speculating of course…

Now for President David Chartrand – let’s have a closer assessment of his letter – we continue to pretend that the only problem is on account of everyone but ME – cuz he is never to blame for anything. He claims he is a victim of Bruce’s bad politics and he does not know where all the money went – because Bruce was the Interim President. To my knowledge – even when Bruce was the Interim President, legal or illegal, the continuum was that David Chartrand and Dale Leclair, Chief Administrative Officer, were still signing all legal financial documents until Mr. Leclair’s resignation in early December.
Even after that the continuous legal signatory was still David Chartrand.

David even starts his letter by saying, “...apologize to you for assuming that your public assurances made to the MNC National Assembly to support whoever won the MNC Presidency were sincere”. Does that mean if you ask financial questions – you do not support the leader? Why would any leader feel like their leadership is in question if you ask for financial clarity? I believe that asking those financial questions is good governance – responsible leaders. I wonder why David thinks that asking and addressing financial concerns is undermining the MNC operations? The only people in my view that are afraid of financial questions are those that have some reason to fear them. Bruce has been asking these questions since the early fall of 2007 – these are not new questions.

David and Clem filed a a statement of claim and mediation was the result – twice - to have an annual meeting to elect a President – and somehow David misrepresents this to be – “this move was proven in court to be contrary to the By-laws of the MNC and you had no authority to do so.” Someone that knows David’s phone number should call him to explain that he obviously is delusional or someone forgot to release the court decision that indicated he had those questions answered in a court of law. The courts did not ever deal with the issues that he alleges where one side was right and the others were wrong. The court supported the Métis Nation in governing its’ own affairs and facilitated an agreed upon mediation process amongst all the individuals. David also indicated that – “the courts agreed that these individuals were the rightful representatives of the MNA delegation” – No they did not – the five Board of Governors brokered a mediated deal and that was part of the court order.

As for the MNC funding being cut – is it the chicken or the egg? Is it because some of the Board of Governors asked questions or is it because some of the people in control of the money could not answer questions? I suspect the Federal Government is looking for answers to their own questions and the fact that the answers they received were not in compliance with their contractual arrangements – the funding was suspended. Does this mean that one side or the other is bad – not necessarily – it just means the forensic audits will try to attain the answers to the questions so that further determinations can be made. In fact, this week the Minister Chuck Strahl has released some new policies from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.
( The policy is around strengthening Fiscal Management and Accountability. The words like transparent, accountable and responsible will have to become part of our leaders vocabulary and this does not just mean financially – it also means ethically with following through with the measures that they commit to in their agreements. Verbal drivel will not be responses to accounting for what they are suppose to achieve with results. Measures will be based on issues like the number of Métis people that are impacted – how they are impacted and demonstrated measures as to how it changed their lives.

When the question of “Detriment” is used – how subjective is that? The Métis Community Grassroots could make a case that many of our leaders are a detriment to the Métis Nation. In fact there is evidence that historically is available where Métis people in 1885 trial of Louis Riel believed he was detrimental to the cause too.

We have heard that a Board of Governors meeting is being scheduled for the last week of April – let us hope that maybe we can quit pointing fingers and have our leaders work together to find some of the solutions that will have the Métis moving forward with issues not personalities.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wonder how this affects the MMF’s Land Claim and Treaty position

Some of the arguments sound a great deal like Thomas Berger - Very Interesting

Ruling rejects natives' Edmonton claim

The Canadian Press
April 4, 2008 at 4:17 AM EDT

OTTAWA — The chief of an Alberta aboriginal group says her people will not give up their claim to much of south Edmonton even though the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled against them.

The high court ruled yesterday that too much time had passed and that descendants of the Papaschase First Nation who contend their land was wrongfully surrendered in the late 1800s did not clearly justify their legal standing to make such claims.

The group, which is not officially recognized as a band by the federal government, is considering its next move, Chief Rose Lameman said.

"Our people are upset and are very emotional. Now we are angry," Ms. Lameman said from the parking lot of the sprawling South Edmonton Common big-box shopping development.

"Of course this is a blow, but I am going to regroup with my people and we will move forward from there. Of course there is always the international arena. Take a look at the Tibetans and what China has done to them."

Eugene Meehan, the lawyer who represented Ms. Lameman and other descendants of the original band, said the high court missed a crucial chance to correct a historic wrong.

"There is no middle ground between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do," he said. "There is no statute of limitations on the right thing to do.

"The bottom line is this: A treaty is an ongoing obligation and a breach of a treaty is an ongoing breach."

It's a case that dates back to a time when many aboriginal people, forced off their land by settlers, faced starvation as buffalo herds thinned.

"The facts are shrouded in the mists of time and some details are disputed," wrote the high court.

But this picture has emerged: In 1877, the Papaschase Indians were allotted a reserve in what is now south Edmonton - land now estimated to be worth about $2.5-billion.

Chief Papaschase and the band's core leaders "took scrip" in 1886, a surrender of their treaty and reserve rights in exchange for cash.

By 1889, government officials recorded just a handful of remaining band members - three men and their families - who gave up their interest in the reserve on condition that proceeds from its sale or lease be held in trust and paid to them or their descendants. Those members then apparently joined the Enoch band, which received those payments over several years.

Fast-forward to 2001, when Ms. Lameman and four other plaintiffs claiming to be descendants of Papaschase members sued the government. They alleged that band members were never properly warned of the consequences of taking scrip, that they'd been wrongfully pressured by settlers to give up their land, that it was never legally surrendered, and that cash from its sale was mismanaged.

An Alberta judge who reviewed the case but didn't try it said the claim could not proceed. The judge concluded that the allegations did not raise issues that could actually be tried and that the plaintiffs had not proven their historic link to the Papaschase leaders or their standing in the case. Moreover, the claims were made long after the six-year deadline on such cases had passed under Alberta's Limitation of Actions Act.

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in 2006 that the myriad issues should be decided at trial. The high court disagreed. It said the claimants should have reasonably been aware of the land surrender back in the 1970s when a similar treaty claim was considered but did not proceed.