Métis National Council
|Type||Representative of the Northwest Métis people within Canada.|
|Purpose||advocate and public voice, educator and network|
The Métis National Council (French: Ralliement national des Métis) is the representative body of the Métis people of northwestern Canada. The MNC represents the Métis Nation both nationally and internationally, receiving direction from the elected leadership of the Métis Nation's provincial-level governments. The goal of the MNC is to "secure a healthy space for the Métis Nation's on-going existence within the Canadian federation".
Prior to the holding of the constitutionally guaranteed First Minister Conference (1983) to further identify and define the rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, it became apparent that the Métis Nation needed to be able to once again represent itself at a national level through its own voice - a Métis voice. The pan-Aboriginal structures of the Native Council of Canada (now known as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples) and its affiliates did not allow the Métis Nation to effectively represent itself.
As a result, in March 1983, the Métis Nation separated from the Native Council of Canada to form the Métis National Council (MNC) - its own Métis-specific national representative body. The presidents of NCC up to the MNC split were; Tony Belcourt (1971-1972), Kermit Moore (1972-1973), Gloria George (1973-1975), and Smokey Bruyere (1981-1983). The Native Council of Canada continued its operations until 1994, when it changed its name to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. It is now an alliance of Non-Status Indians from across the country and Métis from areas such as Labrador and the Maritimes and other Eastern Provinces. The Métis Constitutional Alliance: This Alliance was formed in Winnipeg on October 7, 1982 when the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Federation of Métis Settlements (Alberta) declared their independence from the Native Council of Canada with the goal of pursuing Métis constitutional issues at the upcoming Section 37 Constitutional Conference. The MCA proclamation was signed by Elmer Ghostkeeper on behalf of FMS and Don McIvor on behalf of MMF. At an NCC meeting on January 13-14, 1982 it was clear that the NCC emphasis was on representing the needs of Non-Status Indians to the detriment on Métis concerns.
The Métis wanted both NCC seats at the conference and NCC offered to split them. As a result Jim Sinclair resigned as chairman of the NCC Constitutional Committee and Sinclair along with Elmer Ghostkeeper, Don McIvor and Sam Sinclair left the NCC meeting. On the 18th of January 1983 the MCA telexed Prime Minister Trudeau to announce their withdrawal from NCC and their demand that NCC be decertified as a Métis representative at the constitutional conference. On January 22, 1983 over 100 elected Métis representatives met in Edmonton to discuss formation of a new national Métis political group. However, they could not solve the issue of structure, but agreed to formalize an alliance called the Métis Constitutional Conference (MCC) for the purposes of representation at the constitutional talks. This group was composed of the three prairie provincial associations and the FMS with the under-standing that the Métis from British Columbia and northwestern Ontario would join later. Jim Sinclair then negotiated with NCC for one seat their seats to be assigned to MCC at the constitutional talks. Elmer Ghostkeeper took the MCC seat for the talks in February 1983. On February 28 under pressure from AFN and ICNI the federal Justice Minister announced that they would only recognize NCC as the Métis representative and MCC was effectively expelled from the talks.
On March 3, 1983 representatives of MMF, AMNSIS and MAA reached an accord on a national Métis representative body. The boards of the charter members then met and the Métis National Council was officially formed on March 8, 1983. Notably, Federation of Metis Settlements (FMS) had been left out. The delegates also decided to establish a position for a national representative to attend the first minister’s conference. Clément Chartier was elected to that post. He signed the 1983 Constitutional Accord on behalf of MNC.
After the first ministers conference of 1983 the MNC dealt with requests for admission by the other Métis associations contiguous with the three Prairie Provinces and the Louis Riel Métis Association of British Columbia, and the Northwestern Ontario Métis Federation were admitted. The assembly also eliminated the position of national representative but continued with a small lobby office in Ottawa. A committee under Clem Chartier including Elmer Ghostkeeper from FMS was to steer policy development in the interim. In the constitutional conferences of 1885 the MNC decided that only the Provincial affiliate presidents would sit at the table for MNC. At the annual MNC assembly of October 16, 1988 the boards of the member affiliates elected W. Yvon Dumont from Manitoba as MNC president. Dumont served as president until 1993; successor presidents are Gerald Morin (1993-2003, suspended, January 12, 2003), Audrey Poitras (January 12, 2003 interim President and National spokesperson), Clément Chartier (October 2003 to present). The current affiliates of MNC are the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Alberta, and the Métis Nation British Columbia.
Thus, the National Council was formed in 1983 to support the recognition of the Métis as a distinct ethnicity who identify separately from other aboriginal groups, share Métis Nation ancestry (e.g. the Northwest and Red River, Manitoba settlements) and form recognized communities. This Council was formed to advocate at the federal level in Canada, which became particularly important with Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It is a recognized voice of the Métis people in five Canadian provinces to the Government of Canada, and represents these Métis people on the international stage. The National Council is governed by a Board of Governors made up of the presidents of the provincial Métis organizations and the national president. A former national president of the Council is Yvon Dumont, who went on to become the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. The current president of the Métis National Council is Clément Chartier.
Indigenous Affairs Canada, the relevant federal ministry, deals with the MNC; on April 13, 2017 the two parties signed the Canada-Metis Nation Accord, with the goal of working with the Metis Nation, as represented by the Metis National Council on a Nation to Nation basis.
The MNC is composed of five provincial Métis organizations. They are:
- Métis Nation British Columbia
- Métis Nation of Alberta
- Métis Nation - Saskatchewan
- Manitoba Metis Federation
- Métis Nation of Ontario.
Within each provincial organization are regional councils.
- Yvon Dumont (1988–1993)
- Gerald Morin (1993–2003)
- Audrey Poitras (January 12, 2003 interim President and National spokesperson),
- Clément Chartier (2003–present)
- Barkwell, Lawrence J. The History of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Winnipeg: Louis Riel Institute, 2018. ISBN 978-1-927531-19-8
- Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion, and Audreen Hourie. Metis legacy Michif culture, heritage, and folkways. Métis legacy series, v. 2. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2006. ISBN 0-920915-80-9
- Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion and Darren Prefontaine. "Metis Legacy: A Historiography and Annotated Bibliography". Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc. and Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2001. ISBN 1-894717-03-1
- Ens, Gerhard J. and Joe Sawchuk. From New Peoples to New Nations: Aspects of Metis History and Identity from the Eighteenth to Twenty-First Centuries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4426-2711-6
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Métis National Council.|