Indigenous

Manitoba Métis Federation invites non-Manitoba residents to apply for citizenship

The Manitoba Métis Federation is travelling across Western Canada to attract Métis with Red River roots to join the organization. 

Métis Nation of Alberta says it holds democratic mandate to provide services in its province

The Manitoba Métis Federation is currently travelling the western provinces in hopes of encouraging people outside Manitoba to join the organization. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is visiting cities in western Canada to attract Métis with Red River roots to join the organization. 

Under the Métis National Council's membership guidelines, to be registered as Métis, a person must apply to the Métis registry operated by the MNC governing member in the province where they live. 

The MMF was a governing member until it left the Métis National Council last fall. Now it is inviting Métis living outside Manitoba to join.

"My job as the president is to ensure that every citizen of Red River that has to move because of history, because of jobs, because of love, whatever it was, we need to make sure that their rights are protected and that I have jurisdiction to ensure I provide services," Chartrand said. 

Chartrand attended meetings in Calgary recently. 

"What we're hearing is they're not being served in the areas of the territory here," he said.

"It's very clear there's people who are concerned. They're hearing about this money that we were able to negotiate with Canada for the benefit of the advancement of our people, but it's only a damn story being heard because they're not getting served in their province."

Chartrand said with the MMF's "Beyond Borders" program, people outside Manitoba who apply to join MMF will not be able to keep their membership in their provincial organization.

Members outside Manitoba can vote in MMF elections but the organization says it does not yet know how it will provide services to them.

MNA calls move 'undemocratic'

In an emailed statement, Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras said: "Our democratic mandate exists in Alberta to provide services, programs and funding to Métis citizens in our province. 

"It is undemocratic and unacceptable for anyone to claim power outside of the jurisdiction they were elected to represent, and especially when an elected government already exists.

Audrey Poitras, president of the Métis Nation of Alberta, signs the MNA's self-government agreement with the Government of Canada in Ottawa in 2019. (Métis Nation of Alberta)

"We have seen this kind of attempt for control elsewhere in the world and throughout history, and we know this behaviour is about the individual hoping to consolidate absolute power for themselves, free from any transparency or accountability. It is never about supporting the people they claim to represent."

Chris Yates, who lives in B.C., now has membership with both the MMF and Métis Nation of B.C. 

Yates said the MMF is advanced in what it's doing for citizens. 

"They're doing things that we've only spoke of in the other affiliates. And it's great to have ideas, but the MMF is making those ideas happen." 

Christopher Yates is now a member of the MMF and MNBC. He hopes the B.C. organization will eventually have more to offer citizens, especially regarding harvesting rights. (Submitted by Christopher Yates)

Yates also said the idea of provinces is a colonial construct, which is prohibiting rights recognition.

"The provinces are a colonial boundary not put in place by our people, so why should we be bound by those colonial boundaries? I don't believe we should, and I don't believe our leadership believes we should either."

The MMF plans to hold sessions in the following cities this summer:

  • Edmonton           
  • Saskatoon             
  • Regina                   
  • Yorkton, Sask.                 
  • Prince Albert, Sask.         
  • Kamloops, B.C.             
  • Fort McKay, Alta.           
  • Kenora, Ont. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Renée Lilley

Reporter, CBC Indigenous

Renée Lilley is a reporter for CBC Indigenous based in Winnipeg. She is a recipient of the CJF-CBC Indigenous Journalism Fellowship for 2022 and is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported for radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie, Man. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.

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