Manitoba Metis Federation Welcomes and Supports Isaac Report
July 21, 2016
Winnipeg, MB – Today the Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, released Mr. Thomas Isaac’s report as Canada’s Ministerial Special Representative (“MSR”) on Métis Section 35 Rights and the Manitoba Metis Federation Decision. A copy of the report is available at the MMF’s website at www.mmf.mb.ca.
In his report Mr. Isaac, reaffirms that the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the representative government for the Métis in Manitoba and ‘can forthrightly represent Métis interests in respect of any discussions and negotiations’. (MSR Report, p. 38)
Mr. Isaac also emphasizes that MMF Land Claim is no longer a ‘claim’. The ‘claim’ has been validated by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2013 judicial declaration. His recommendation is for the MMF and Canada to move on to implementing the judicial declaration granted to the MMF in order to restore the honour the Crown and advance reconciliation with the Manitoba Métis Federation.
“On this matter, I am pleased that by working together, the MMF and Canada has already moved beyond Mr. Isaac’s recommendation of the MSR,” explains President David Chartrand of the Manitoba Metis Federation. “We are no longer waiting for Canada to come back to the table. With the signing of our Memorandum of Understanding with Canada on May 27, 2016, we are on the road to reconciliation.”
“While there is much more work to be done, we are now undertaking community consultations with our people to build a Framework Agreement for the negotiation of a modern day treaty with Canada. This is how we will advance reconciliation. Mr. Isaac’s report bolsters the need for the MMF and Canada to continue to move forward on the path we are on,” added MMF President Chartrand.
The MSR report also highlighted that “lumping” Métis and other Aboriginal people together is not the ‘way forward’ for reconciliation with the Métis Nation. Métis specific initiatives which can be independently and transparently measured and evaluated are important to measure the success of reconciliation with Métis.
“The Métis are different people from other Aboriginal peoples in Canada. In his report, Mr. Isaac accurately recognizes the historic ‘Métis of the Northwest’ are the only Métis that the courts have recognized as coming with rights as provided by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the MMF along with other Métis Nation governments represent this Métis people,” states President Chartrand. “It is also important to note that Mr. Isaac reaffirms the Section 35 Métis must meet the Powley test established by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2003. These are the only rights-bearing Métis in Canada. Individuals and communities with mere mixed Aboriginal ancestry do not have Section 35 Métis Rights.”
Another important note of the MSR Report is the recognition that Treaty rights of First Nation do not ‘trump’ Métis Section 35 rights. Mr. Isaac reaffirms that there is no hierarchy of rights amongst First Nations and the Métis Nation in Section 35. “We hope this report puts the final nail into this misconception that we often see within federal and provincial governments,” said President Chartrand.
In his report, Mr. Isaac also specifically note that for the purposes of Section 35 Métis Rights, provincial governments cannot continue to use public government structures like the Northern Affairs Community Councils in Manitoba for the purposes of Crown consultation because they are not authorized for those purposes. Authorized Métis governments such as the MMF are the appropriate parties for Crown consultation—not creations of provincial governments.
The MSR also made the important point that reconciliation demands Section 35 Métis Rights be determined, recognized and respected through negotiations and agreements between the Crown and the Métis Nation. The report recognized that platitudes and symbolic gestures are not sufficient.
“The Manitoba Metis Federation – the official self-government of the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community – welcomes this report and its recommendations that recognize and reconfirm our Section 35 Métis Rights and that the MMF is the representative government that represents Métis interests in discussions and negotiations with the Crown,” concluded President Chartrand.
“Based upon these MSR recommendations we will continue to move forward in finalizing a Framework Agreement with Canada on settling the collective claim of the Métis of Manitoba. We also expect the province of Manitoba to no longer follow the bad advice it has received in the past regarding not consulting with the MMF on important matters such as Treaty Land Entitlements and instead engage government-to-government with the duly recognized government of Manitoba’s Métis.”
Background Information and Report
View Background to Report Here: Ministerial Special Representative on Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Métis Federation Land Claim Case
View the Report Here: A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: Report of the Minister's Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Metis Federation Decision
Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the official democratic and self-governing political representative for the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community. The Manitoba Métis are Canada’s Negotiating Partner in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.
Winnipeg – once known as the Red River Settlement – is the Birthplace of the Métis Nation and the Heart of the Métis Nation Homeland.
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