What is a Constitution?
A constitution is like a rule book describing how a nation will be governed. A constitution recognizes and protects a nation’s values. A constitution is the foundation on which a government is built and laws are made.
Constitutions articulate the essential components needed to establish and govern a nation:
- National values and principles
- Requirements for citizenship
- Rights and freedoms of citizens
- Framework for governance
- Powers and authority of the levels of government
- The process for making laws
- The adjudication of disputes
A constitution can give an Aboriginal government the legitimacy and legal tools it needs to provide appropriate health, educational, and social services to its citizens. With the benefit of a constitution, an Aboriginal government can better position its citizens to pursue opportunities for sustained economic development.
Why Does the Métis Nation of Alberta
Need a Constitution?
The MNA has served as the democratic government of the Métis Nation’s citizens in Alberta since 1928. The MNA’s legitimacy—as a Métis Nation government—comes from the Métis people themselves. For much of the MNA’s history, however, Canada and Alberta have not been willing to recognize the self-government of the Métis Nation within Alberta.
In 1961, the MNA incorporated as an association under Alberta’s Societies Act. The MNA did this so it could receive funding from other governments, allowing the association to be used as a transitional vehicle in the fight for the recognition of its full self-government. It has been the MNA’s longstanding goal, however, to negotiate with Canada and Alberta to have the self-government of the Métis Nation of Alberta fully recognized and implemented.
Now, Canada has agreed to negotiate a self-government agreement with the MNA. A self-government agreement will create a framework for a government-to-government relationship between Canada and the MNA. Crucially, the self-government agreement will recognize the MNA as a legitimate, independent government that is accountable to its citizens. For the MNA to fulfill this role, it will need its own constitution.
Is the Idea of an MNA Constitution New?
The Métis Nation has had constitutions in the past, for example, under the provisional governments established by Louis Riel. The MNA’s citizens have been asking for a constitution for decades. Going back to the 1980s, numerous reports and studies produced by the MNA have recommended the Métis in Alberta develop and adopt a constitution. But neither Canada nor Alberta supported these efforts. Now, with Canada’s support, the goal of an MNA constitution is closer than ever.
How Can I Help?
Our inherent right to self-government is a right we hold together. We will only achieve self-government if we work together. All citizens of the Métis Nation within Alberta will have a say in our new constitution—we will make sure of this by holding a province-wide referendum before it is adopted. Be a part of this historic initiative. Get involved. The MNA will be organizing outreach events and consulting with citizens across the province. Participate. Your Métis Nation needs you.