Al­berta Métis set­tle­ments cel­e­brate 80 years

Fort McMurray Today - - ALBERTA NEWS - EMMA GRANEY [email protected]­media.com

Eight decades of the of­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween Al­berta’s Métis pop­u­la­tion and the provin­cial govern­ment — the ups and downs, good times and bad — was cel­e­brated at the leg­is­la­ture build­ing Mon­day.

With the help of en­thu­si­as­tic fid­dle reels cour­tesy of a group of Grade 4 stu­dents from Prince Charles El­e­men­tary, lead­ers from Al­berta’s eight Métis set­tle­ments joined govern­ment of­fi­cials to mark the 80th an­niver­sary of the 1938 Métis Pop­u­la­tion Bet­ter­ment Act.

“It cer­tainly is a good day,” Métis Set­tle­ments Gen­eral Coun­cil pres­i­dent Ger­ald Cun­ning­ham told the gath­er­ing.

The Métis Pop­u­la­tion Bet­ter­ment Act is the only provin­cial Métis agree­ment of its kind in Canada. With more than 114,000 Métis peo­ple liv­ing in the province, Al­berta is home to the largest Métis pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try.

Re­flect­ing on words spo­ken by Métis el­ders at the 40th an­niver­sary of the act, Cun­ning­ham said many peo­ple will de­bate whether the part­ner­ship be­tween his peo­ple and the province has been a “great one, a good one, or a not so good one.”

“For me, I think about what it was like back in the early days … when our peo­ple were home­less, dis­easerid­den and we were called the des­ti­tute Métis. That was not that long ago,” he said.

When he com­pared that to to­day — 1.25 mil­lion acres of pro­tected Métis land, leg­is­la­tion to de­velop laws and gov­ern Métis com­mu­ni­ties, and a land pro­tec­tion act — Cun­ning­ham said the part­ner­ship had “come a long way.”

De­spite is­sues with lost land rev­enues and the loss of four set­tle­ments, he said, “the mes­sage is that in any re­la­tion­ship, if the par­ties are able to rec­on­cile their dif­fer­ences, and cor­rect er­rors, the part­ner­ship will re­main in­tact.”

Still, Cun­ning­ham said, there is still work to be done and his peo­ple can­not af­ford to be com­pla­cent.

“We must con­tinue to work to­gether for the ben­e­fit of our peo­ple in the fu­ture,” he said.

“A new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers from the Métis Set­tle­ments Gen­eral Coun­cil are car­ry­ing the torch … for­ward into the next 40 years of our his­tory.”

DAVID BLOOM/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Ger­ald Cun­ning­ham, Métis Set­tle­ments Gen­eral Coun­cil pres­i­dent, presents Richard Fee­han, Indige­nous Re­la­tions Min­is­ter, with a Métis Set­tle­ments Gen­eral Coun­cil flag dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion of the 80th an­niver­sary of the Métis Pop­u­la­tion Bet­ter­ment Act at the Al­berta Leg­is­la­ture on Dec. 3, 2018.

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