Indigenous

Manitoba Métis Federation leaves Métis National Council

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) announced Wednesday it was leaving the Métis National Council (MNC) over membership issues involving the Métis Nation Ontario (MNO).

MMF president says national council 'abandoned the MMF and the true Métis Nation'

Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand holds up an agreement with the federal government that recognizes the federation's jurisdiction over its citizens, elections and operations of Métis government. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) announced Wednesday it was leaving the Métis National Council (MNC) over membership issues involving the Métis Nation Ontario (MNO).

"We view this not as MMF leaving MNC," wrote MMF President David Chartrand in a letter to MNC President Clement Chartier dated Sept. 28.

"Rather it is the MNC that has abandoned the MMF and the true Métis Nation."

In a news release Wednesday, the MMF said that at its 2019 annual general assembly, a resolution was passed that the MMF should withdraw from the MNC "should MNO continue to be allowed a seat at the governance table while they – by their own admission – have nearly 80 per cent non-Métis Nation Citizens in their registry."

Debate about membership and who is and who isn't Métis has caused divisions among the various provincial Métis organizations.

According to the 2016 census, there are 120,585 self-identifying Métis people in Ontario, a 40 per cent increase from 2011 and an increase of 64 per cent since 2006.

The Métis Nation of Ontario was put on a one-year probation by the national council in 2018, and was suspended in January 2020 over a perceived lack of adherence to the national council's definition of citizenship, adopted in 2002. According to the national council, "Métis" means someone who has ancestors connected to the historic Métis Nation who lived in the historic Métis Nation homeland.

In his letter to Chartier, Chartrand referenced the Manitoba Metis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement signed July 6 and said "We will continue to protect our citizens regardless of where they live. We stand tall as the only true Métis Government with a modern day treaty that is about to be signed, and a land claim that is about to be settled."

Will represent all Red River Métis

Chartrand said in an interview he would no longer recognize the Métis National Council.

"We've gone through so much hostility in this country to protect our identity….[and] they've lost their direction, in my view," he said.

Chartrand said the MMF will represent anyone who has ties to the Red River Métis and said the organization has seen an uptick in membership applications.

"We're getting a flood of applications right now, which is quite — it's astounding in some sense," said Chartrand.

"Thousands of Métis from the Red River are joining from all across western Canada and putting applications to be a citizen of the Métis federation."

In a statement dated Tuesday, MNO President Margaret Froh said "The Métis Nation of Ontario is disappointed, but equally, not surprised by the MMF's decision to withdraw from the Métis National Council."

The statement said it was "especially disturbing that after two years of delays, the MMF chose to withdraw on the eve of the MNC General Assembly and election. 

Froh said the MNO "remains committed to transparency and accountability in Métis Nation governance."

"As it always has, MNO will continue to work in collaboration with other Métis Governments to advance the interests and priorities of the Métis citizens we represent and the Métis Nation as a whole."

A special sitting of the Métis National Council General Assembly is happening Wednesday and Thursday in Saskatoon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous. She is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported on radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.

with files from Lenard Monkman

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