By Michael Oleksyn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
This weekend the Metis Nation, Saskatchewan (MN_S) gathered for the Fall 2022 meeting of the Metis Nation Legislative Assembly (MNLA). At their meeting the delegates to the MNLA unanimously endorsed the stand taken by the MN_S executive and rejected the provincial government’s Saskatchewan First Act.
The body is made up of the Presidents of Metis Locals from across the province and the Provincial Metis Council, the MNLA serves as the supreme governing body of the MN_S.
“Our MNLA is our legislative body and so I mean we had already taken a stand with respect to Sask First Act but this was sort of bringing it to the assembly and making sure that what we were talking about and what they wanted to talk about was the stance that we are taking and then that resolution was passed unanimously.”
MNS Vice President Michelle LeClair explained.
She explained that this was an important step as the delegates of the assembly are the basic unit of the governance structure of the MN-S.
“You need to get the mandate from them so that’s where that was so very vitally important to talk to our presidents about the Sask First Act and the implications of if it is passed for our community,”
MNS says the Act clearly ignores the inherent rights of Metis citizens to be consulted on constitutional change that impacts our communities. The MNLA directs the executive to call for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed legislation and forth Saskatchewan government to start again, honouring the nation-to-nation relationship with Metis people.
Leclair explained that the MN-S is still working on strategy as to whether to take the act to litigation.
“But I think Indigenous peoples standing together on this very issue, when I read how different Tribal Councils have reacted and FSIN has reacted to the Sask First Act. We really need to think about standing united on this issue because it does affect our constitutionally protected rights under Section 35 and there is other sections of the constitution that if it effects and from our view it is unconstitutional and so we are looking at our legal strategy with respect to if this act passes,” she said.
In a related motion MNLA delegates also came together in their strong opposition to the disposition of Crown Land in Saskatchewan and directed the MN_S to demand the province immediately halt its unconstitutional disposition of land and engage in the development of a consultation protocol that will finally and rightfully respect Metis rights, interests and honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
“It all goes together, when we are talking about land and there is also another thing that impacts that and that is that we have an active land claim in Northwest Saskatchewan. So first of all the Sask First Act is going to effect our rights as Indigenous people.
But second of all it also effects the disposition of crown land and the Saskatchewan First Act also effects our land claim and when we negotiate or get to if it is heard out in court. We are talking about Aboriginal title and when we talk about Aboriginal title we are talking about things like resource sharing, all of those kinds of things that the Sask First Act does not talk about,” Leclair said.
The Daily Herald reached out to the Province for reaction and did not receive a response.