Métis Federation declines to sign Winnipeg's Indigenous Accord

The Manitoba Métis Federation has declined to sign Winnipeg's Indigenous Accord, a document intended to further the cause of reconciliation between the city's Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Dozens of organizations sign document mayor hopes will further cause of reconciliation

Political leaders, including Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, attended the signing ceremony for Winnipeg's Indigenous accord. (CBC)

The Manitoba Métis Federation has declined to sign Winnipeg's Indigenous Accord, a document intended to further the cause of reconciliation between the city's Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Mayor Brian Bowman, all members of city council and representatives of dozens of Winnipeg organizations signed the accord Tuesday during a 2.5-hour ceremony at Oodena Circle at The Forks.

The accord compels signatories to publish an annual report that quantifies the measures they're taking to further the cause of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The accord was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action.

"Really, what we're doing here is we're compelling signatories to make sure they're stepping up to the greatest extent possible," said Bowman, who said the ceremony was important for Winnipeg both symbolically and tangibly.

"I hope it's a historic day that really strengthens our city," he said.

The Manitoba Métis Federation, however, declined to sign on, even as it praised the mayor and the city for making the effort to promote cultural harmony.

"As Government of the Métis in Manitoba, it would be inappropriate for the MMF to be a signatory to an accord that cannot address specifically our experience in the Residential School system by virtue of the simple fact that the Métis Nation was excluded from the scope of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," MMF communications director Jonathan Hamel said in a statement.

"As such, the 94 calls to action of the TRC report do not address the experience and reality of our Métis citizens who endured abuse in these schools."

All members of city council attended the signing ceremony, including (from left) Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas), Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge), Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) and Russ Wyatt (Transcona).
Bowman, Winnipeg's first Métis mayor, said he respects the MMF's decision.

"The invitation remains open to the MMF to sign as a signatory, as it does for every organization that was not here today," the mayor said.

Bowman also said he understands if other Winnipeggers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are cynical about the prospects for positive change.

"Any cynicism is rooted in real issues in our community that we need to better address, so I certainly don't begrudge anybody who might share that," Bowman said.

"Let's have the discussion. Let's have the debate.  Let's be challenged and let's challenge each other to step up and do a better job."

The city has yet to identify what specific reconciliation measures will be quantified in its annual reports, Bowman said.

The city previously said it has developed a half-day session that will allow city staff to learn about residential schools and their long-lasting effects.

According to a report to council last December, the city had cultural teachers and elders ready to deliver training "in 2017 and beyond, until all staff have participated."

It's unclear how long it will take for all City of Winnipeg employees to attend the educational seminars, the mayor said Tuesday.