A law that would recognize self-governance for Métis people in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta is one step closer to becoming reality.
A process that began over three months ago, concluded Monday with the advancement of Bill C-53, which now returns to the House for Third Reading.
Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN-S) President Glen McCallum said the bill is a significant step for Métis people, and the MN-S is celebrating it.
“It’s beautiful to see,” McCallum said. “To be able to look at our history in regards to where we come from, the many years of struggles … with the Métis Nation, to be able to be where we’re at today is huge.”
If the bill passes third reading it would create the Recognition of Certain Métis Governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and Métis Self-Government Act, by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN).
McCallum has been in MN-S for six years and has seen the progress from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to a framework agreement to a core governance agreement to legislation.
“(After) all the years of our people being on the sidelines or falling through the cracks, it’s a tremendous thing to be able to see in regards to the strides that we’ve made between the federal government and the Métis Nation,” McCallum said.
He stated in a press release that the Métis people of Saskatchewan have been waiting 140 years to have a form of self-government and this gets them one step closer.
McCallum said that it was significant for all Métis Governments in the provinces involved.
He said seeing it read the first two times in the House of Commons, and returned to the House by the Senate made him hopeful for the day that it would be passed.
“I look forward to that day when we sign on the dotted line to be able to once and for all have us be look, be looked at as a government. It’s wonderful,” McCallum said.
He explained that having it go through the amendment process showed that there is a level of understanding and cooperation with different cultures and recognizing the distinct nature of these cultures was significant.
These amendments to the Bill were also supported by Métis governments to ensure it is unquestionable that Bill C-53 does not impact the lands or rights of other Indigenous peoples.
With over 270 briefs submitted and 65 witness appearances, the bill passed through this important stage after a series of amendments agreed upon by all parties.
“It was a long road, but we remain committed to our citizens and what this bill will do for the Métis Nation,” MN–S Vice President Michelle LeClair said in a press release.
“We are confident the amendments made by the INAN Committee have addressed concerns that were raised, and we look forward to the next stage of the process.”
As Bill C-53 continues through the parliamentary process, LeClair said it is a testament to the Métis Nation and Canada’s commitment to righting the historic wrongs perpetuated by federal policy.
“We have worked diligently to establish a true nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government and I am optimistic that the advancement of our historic self-government implementation legislation is a symbol of Canada’s commitment to that promise.”
On June 21, 2023, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-53, the Recognition of Certain Métis Governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and Métis Self-Government Act (Bill C-53). Bill C-53 broadly recognizes the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN-S), and the MétisNation of Alberta (MNA) as representative Métis governments in these provinces and provides them potential section 35 self-government rights.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald