Purpose of Negotiations
For decades, Canada refused to negotiate the recognition of Métis rights and settlement of Métis claims. Beginning in 2016, however, Canada adopted a new approach to negotiations with Indigenous people, including the Métis. Canada calls this approach, Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination Negotiations, and is based on respect, cooperation, and partnership.
As part of its new approach, Canada agreed to negotiate with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) to renew our nation-to-nation relationship and advance reconciliation. More specifically, these negotiations will focus on three priorities:
- Self-government for the Métis Nation within Alberta
- The Métis Nation’s section 35 rights in Alberta
- The Métis Nation’s outstanding claims in Alberta, including Métis scrip
Agreements made between Canada and the MNA will address these priorities in recognizing and implementing Metis rights and resolving outstanding claims.
Where treaties remain to be concluded, the honour of the Crown requires negotiations leading to a just settlement of Aboriginal claims.
Haida v. British Columbia, Supreme Court of Canada
Process of Negotiations
At the negotiation table, Canada and the MNA explore new ideas and ways of reaching agreements that recognize the rights of the Métis Nation within Alberta and advance our vision of self-determination. These negotiations have been guided by the following steps:
Step 1Request to Negotiate Accepted by Canada
On May 10, 2016, MNA President Audrey Poitras wrote to Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, requesting Canada and the MNA begin exploratory discussions to address the rights, interests, and claims of the Métis Nation of Alberta.
On June 13, 2016, Canada accepted and agreed to establish an exploratory discussions process. These discussions between Canada and the MNA began in September 2016.
Step 2Signing of Memorandum of Understanding
Throughout the fall of 2016, Canada and the MNA began talks with the goal of creating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide future discussions and negotiations, marking a significant change in the federal government’s approach. Previously, Canada had refused to negotiate with the Métis Nation south of the 60th parallel for many reasons, including its:
- Denial of the Métis Nation’s rights
- Rejection of the Métis Nation’s outstanding claims
- Refusal to take federal responsibility for the Métis Nation
Unlike the old approach, these discussions were based on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship, advancing reconciliation through cooperation, respect for rights, and ending the status quo.
On January 30, 2017, the MNA and Canada signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Reconciliation, marking the official beginning of exploratory discussions.
Step 3Signing of a Framework Agreement
Throughout the spring of 2017, representatives of the MNA and Canada negotiated a framework agreement.
A framework agreement defines the topics and process of negotiations. It does not decide the outcome, but instead provides an outline of discussions. Developing a framework agreement that both sides accept is an important step ensuring a shared understanding of the work ahead.
On November 16, 2017, the MNA and Canada signed the Framework Agreement for Advancing Reconciliation.
Step 4Signing of the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement
On June 27, 2019, the MNA and Canada signed the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA), the first ever self-government agreement between Canada and a Métis government. The signing of the MGRSA was a significant milestone for the Métis Nation within Alberta, marking the culmination of generations of hard work by the MNA’s leaders and citizens.
The MGRSA sets out a clear path for Canada to recognize the MNA as an Indigenous government in federal legislation.
Step 5Adoption of Federal Recognition Legislation by Canada
Canada will adopt federal legislation to implement the MGRSA. This legislation will provide Canada with the legal means to recognize the MNA as the Indigenous government of the Métis Nation with Alberta. Canada has committed to consulting with us in drafting this legislation and will not introduce the legislation in Parliament without our support.
Step 6Adoption of MNA Constitution and Laws
In consultation with its citizens, we will develop a Constitution that will be the foundation for Métis Nation self-government in Alberta for generations to come. MNA citizens will then participate in a provincewide ratification process to adopt the constitution and the MGRSA. The MNA will also create core laws for citizenship, leadership selection, and governmental operations.
Step 7Negotiation of Transition Plan and Implementation Agreements
To fully implement the MGRSA, the MNA and Canada will negotiate the following future agreements and plans:
- A fiscal financing agreement to ensure the we have essential financial resources
- An intergovernmental relations agreement to address issues related to our ongoing relationship
- A transition plan to address converting our existing structure into a federally recognized Indigenous government
Step 8Métis Nation Self-Government in Alberta
By adopting our Constitution and core laws, and finalizing its transition plan, we will trigger the implementation provisions in the federal recognition legislation. We will no longer be an association under provincial legislation, and instead will be recognized under federal legislation for what we are: The Indigenous government of the Métis Nation within Alberta. This will begin a new chapter in the journey of self-determination for the Métis Nation within Alberta.