President's Message - June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

In recent days, Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, concluded its long journey by receiving Royal Assent, passing into law in Canada.

As your Métis Government has shared with you, we worked shoulder to shoulder with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) to develop this legislation with Canada, proving the value of consultation with Indigenous governments. The nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship we have with Canada and the ones we are growing with ITK and AFN are a blueprint for the future, and one I hope we keep evolving.

The UN Declaration is an important instrument of international law, and it holds a great deal of promise for the Métis Nation. It presents a strong vision for the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, built on a foundation of meaningful self-determination. This framework sets out expectations for minimum standards for the dignity, survival, and well-being of our Nation in ongoing consultation with us.

This legislation lays the groundwork for a renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. We have been strong supporters of the implementation of this legislation, partnering in advocacy and bringing clarity to the definition of consultation.

While the benefits of consultation are significant and were discussed often, it may take time for the conservative premiers in the country to understand that "consultation" does not mean "veto", and that economic development is a shared interest for all governments. Bill C-15 is a win-win-win for Indigenous peoples, industry and all Canadians. It also makes it clear that we all have a shared responsibility as stewards of the land and waters around us: government, industry and Indigenous Peoples. We will continue to honour the ways of our ancestors and the teachings of our Elders as they guide us to conserve and preserve.

We have come a long way on our journey. But we cannot rest - we must move from the framework of Bill C-15 into the design an action plan and then, finally, to implementation. Through this work, we will create a distinctions-based approach to upholding the inherent rights of the Métis Nation and strengthening our Citizens, communities, and governments.

This work was the effort of decades, with many Métis Nation patriots driving the outcomes in partnership with the First Nations and Inuit governments, Canada, and a growing network of global Indigenous partners. This ability to forge relationships, create our own tailored programs, and finally see the fruits of our tax dollars - this is what it means to have self-determination. Human rights are Indigenous rights, and if this had been understood and honoured in the 1870s, imagine where our province, our country and our world would be.

I thank Prime Minister Trudeau for keeping his promise to bring this legislation forward and Ministers Lametti and Bennett for overseeing its advancement through Parliament. The Métis Nation has always valued the strength of a person's word and the integrity of honouring it and our nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship with Canada is improved by every successful dialogue.

Another successful dialogue resulted in a Métis Director in the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. In her new role, Georgina Liberty will be focused on preserving and revitalizing Michif and working the other directors and the commissioner will help strengthen all Indigenous languages in Canada, which will have positive impacts for our multilingual Métis Nation. Georgina has been part of the MMF for a long time, carrying on the work of her father George Fleury, who was a respected Elder and a founding father of the MMF. On behalf of her friends and family at the MMF, I extend our congratulations to Georgina as she begins her new role.

I wish everyone well and hope that we all get the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones as public health orders continue to ease. I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve.


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