Update on Metis Settlements Consultation
Edmonton, AB October 10, 2017 – The Metis Settlements General Council has been meeting regularly with Minister of Indigenous Relations, Richard Feehan, to keep the lines of communication open on a variety of issues. As a result, at a meeting on September 28th that included the Minister, MSGC and Alberta agreed to re-open dialogue on the Metis Settlements Consultation Policy.
The Metis Settlements General Council began negotiating for a consultation policy with Alberta in 2014, leading to Cabinet approval of a policy in 2015. “The Metis Settlements Consultation Policy was not perfect but it was important to get our foot in the door, knowing that we would continue work to improve it,” said Gerald Cunningham, President of the Metis Settlements General Council.
For decades, MSGC has been a constant and consistent advocate for the recognition of the inherent Rights of Metis Settlements. A consultation working group has been established to review and propose revisions that will enhance the Consultation Policy. This working group, which includes representation from the Government of Alberta, has committed to four meetings by the end of November 2017. President Cunningham noted, “this is an ambitious schedule but we recognize that this issue is a high priority for both the Metis Settlements and Alberta, and we owe it to our members to make progress quickly.”
Once a draft is in hand at the end of November, Metis Settlement Members will have opportunity to review the draft and provide feedback. “Having a consultation policy in place that works for both the Metis Settlements and the Government of Alberta is vital to creating opportunity in our communities and to the protection of our traditional lands and our culture. The Metis Settlements have a long and storied history in Alberta and this must be recognized by governments, regional partners and industry,” said President Cunningham.
Regular updates on progress can be found at www.metissettlements.com and in the MSGC newsletter, The Messenger.
Metis Settlements Health Board Delivers Groundbreaking Community Health Assessment to Alberta
August 4, 2017
After more than a year of intensive work, the Metis Settlements Health Board has completed a comprehensive community health assessment of all eight Metis Settlements. Both Minister Richard Feehan of Indigenous Relations, and Minister Sarah Hoffman of Health, have been provided details on the project. With the assessment in hand, the work now begins to shift towards implementation of strategies to address the findings.
This is the first such assessment that has taken place in the almost eighty-year history of the Metis Settlements and took over a year to complete. The purpose of the assessment was to develop a comprehensive understanding of health care challenges and service delivery issues that exist in the Metis Settlements.
The assessment was initiated and overseen by the Metis Settlements Health Board, in collaboration with the Metis Settlements General Council, University of Alberta, and Alberta Health. Regarding the importance of this initiative, Gerald Cunningham, President of the Metis Settlements General Council, said this:
“Time and again, studies show that outcomes are significantly improved when Aboriginal communities have a greater say in community health decisions. We are pleased that our Health Board has begun this important work and that key stakeholders like the U of A and Alberta Health have agreed to collaborate with us on this initiative.”
The assessment employed a multi-disciplinary approach that utilized online and paper surveys, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, interviews with health professionals, and engagement with community leadership to collect the vital information that made the assessment possible. Statistics were important but it was a major goal of the process to understand the perceptions of healthcare delivery on the ground in the communities.
Minister of Indigenous Relations, Richard Feehan, had this to say about the collaboration:
“The Alberta government is committed to improving the lives of all Albertans including those on the Metis Settlements. This study is an important step in ensuring that those living on settlements are as healthy as others who live elsewhere. I look forward to working with my colleagues and representatives of the Metis Settlements as we collaboratively bring about the changes needed to make this happen.”
Given how vital community healthcare is, the Metis Settlements Health Board will be seeking an opportunity to discuss its findings with various members of the provincial cabinet. This process began as a partnership with the Government of Alberta and the MSHB is optimistic that the partnership can continue.
President Cunningham Comments on MSGC’s Exclusion from Council of the Federation Meeting in Edmonton
July 17, 2017
As the Council of the Federation prepares to meet in Edmonton this week, Metis Settlements General Council President Gerald Cunningham expressed his concern that the provincial and federal governments continue to exclude Metis Settlement leadership from these important meetings. As the only legislated land-based Metis communities in Canada, MSGC has a unique and valuable perspective that must be included in these discussions.
“Time and again we have reached out to Premier Notley’s office, and to the Government of Canada, to clarify for them that the Metis Nation does not speak for, nor does it make decisions for, the Metis Settlements and the Metis Settlements General Council. We have respectfully sought to meet with key provincial and federal stakeholders to educate them about the Metis Settlements and yet they continue to exclude our unique and separate communities from important discussions.”
President Cunningham and the Metis Settlements General Council agrees that reconciliation and the establishment of a new, more positive relationship between Metis peoples and Canada requires full participation at the decision-making tables. Reconciliation is more than talk and photo opportunities. It is about inclusion, respect for the rights of Metis people, and, in the case of the Metis Settlements, recognition that the only authority empowered to speak on behalf of the Settlements is the Metis Settlements General Council.
“In order to create cooperation and foster respect between our leadership and provincial and federal leaders, our unique voice and perspective must be included at the table. While we appreciate the work that the Metis Nation is doing on behalf of their members, we cannot allow Alberta and Canada to leave the table with the false notion that we have been consulted because the MNC has been consulted. This is simply not the case.”
The Metis Settlements General Council will continue in its efforts to educate the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada about the Settlements and their unique culture and history. And MSGC will continue to advocate on behalf of its members. In the coming days, President Cunningham will again be seeking a meeting with Premier Notley and the MSGC Board of Directors to resolve these ongoing issues.
“Since the signing of the Metis Settlements Act in 1989, every Premier of Alberta has met with MSGC. Premier Notley is now two years into her mandate and has yet to find an hour to meet with us. It is our sincere hope that this oversight can be remedied in the near future.”
MSGC Executive Update
April 2017 has been an incredibly busy month for the Metis Settlements General Council Executive. The whole Executive has been working hard to deliver on the priorities and directives provided by the Assembly. There are also several areas in which MSGC has made substantial progress, ranging from policy development at General Council to engagement with the Government of Canada on Metis Reconciliation. The following report provides an overview of what the Executive was working on in April.
Standardized Financial Reporting
Throughout April, Treasurer Sherry Cunningham has been working closely with Judy Hopkins, who was contracted March 31st, to assist MSGC with the development of a draft workplan and a standardized financial reporting policy with templates. A draft work plan has been developed and will be presented and discussed with the administrators/finance staff on May 5. It is critical that the administrators and finance staff have direct input on the development of this administrative policy.
In addition, the technical drafting team met twice in April to review the draft work plan and draft policy.
Once a policy has been reviewed and edited by the administrators and finance staff, the draft will be presented to the governance committee. The target date for this item will be May 31, 2017. It is anticipated that the governance committee will recommend the policy proceed to the board. From there, it is therefore anticipated that the board will recommend the policy proceed to an assembly.
First, second and third readings by the assembly are proposed for June 2017.
Revenue – Expenditure Gap
Treasurer Sherry Cunningham worked with the Settlements to ensure that they had any support necessary from MSGC to complete Revenue Expenditure Gap Plans. Plans were submitted on March 31, 2017. We are still awaiting comments from the Minister.
Metis Settlements Strategic Summit Engagement Process
From November 28th to 30th, MSGC hosted a strategic planning summit at the River Cree Resort in West Edmonton. The purpose of this summit was to provide a large cross-section of Metis Settlement Members and stakeholders to come together in one place and help set the new strategic direction for the MSGC. A commitment was made to engage Settlement members on the outcome report for further input and ideas.
The Executive attended three public meetings in the Settlements in April to fulfill this commitment. Members in Peavine (April 3rd), Buffalo Lake (April 10th), and Kikino (April 11th) turned out to well-attended engagement sessions to provide feedback on MSGC priorities as it undertakes discussions with Canada on Metis Reconciliation. This included feedback on delivery of programs, available services, and long term sustainability. Work will continue on this top priority
Capital Infrastructure Program
Vice President Darren Calliou chaired three very productive infrastructure meetings – April 3rd, 12th, and 24th – to continue work on the implementation of the Capital Infrastructure program. Plans are coming together that will ensure funding flows in the coming months. Meetings of this important infrastructure committee are ongoing.
Northland School Division Restructuring
On April 4th, Education Minister David Eggen invited President Gerald Cunningham to attend and speak at the press conference to announce the introduction of Bill 6 – the legislation that restructures the Northland School Division. While Gerald acknowledged many of the positive things in the bill, he also acknowledged that some challenges still exist and that MSGC will continue to provide input.
Housing Steering Committee
Vice President Calliou chaired a meeting of the Housing Steering Committee on April 5th. The Committee is doing the development work necessary to establish the Metis Settlements Housing Authority and transition homes completed with the Long-Term Agreement under the management of the Housing Authority. Currently, bylaws and policies are being developed to manage the Housing Authority and this work will continue throughout the coming months.
Economic Development Working Group
Elected Secretary Dot Anderson chaired the second meeting of this group on April 6th. The Working Group includes one representative from each of the eight Settlements, with the Elected Secretary of MSGC as the chairperson. The meeting allowed the Working Group to continue the development work on eight individual economic development strategic plans. This is important work and it will continue throughout the coming months.
Metis Settlements Health Board
On April 11th, Elected Secretary Dot Anderson and the Metis Settlements Health Board held a regularly scheduled meeting. The meeting focused on building relationships with stakeholders, reviewing invitations to participate in several new health related initiatives, and review of a media announcement regarding the completion of the Metis Settlements Health Assessment.
Meeting with Minister Danielle Larivee
On April 12th, the MSGC Board, as well as President Gerald Cunningham and Elected Secretary Dot Anderson, met with Minister Larivee in her new capacity as Minister of Child Services. The meeting was an opportunity for the Minister to provide an update on the work she is doing to address the challenges within the department and to better protect children in care. The Board engaged in discussion with her and her officials, raising many concerns voiced by the Settlements.
National Gathering of Elders Press Conference
On April 12th, President Gerald Cunningham and Elected Secretary Dot Anderson attended the press conference announcing the historic National Gathering of Elders. Gerald offered remarks to the large group of media in attendance. MSGC is proud to have a representative on the planning committee for this unprecedented event.
University of Alberta Strategic Review
Also on April 12th, Gerald met with a group of students at the University of Alberta who are doing a review of the Strategic Summit report and making recommendations on how it links to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and Metis Reconciliation.
Climate Change Initiative
On April 18th & 19th, MSGC turned its focus to its Climate Change Initiative. The 18th involved a pre-meeting of the President Cunningham and Vice President Calliou with officials from Indigenous Relations for the following day. On the 19th, the President and Vice President attended a meeting of indigenous leadership, including chiefs from Treaties 6, 7, and 8, as well as the MNA on Alberta’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative. Minister Richard Feehan of Indigenous Relations also attended.
The MSGC Governance Committee met on April 21st to continue their ongoing work to develop a Code of Conduct Policy, Conflict of Interest Policy, and a policy to define Settlement Councils’ relationships to Settlement-owned businesses. The meeting was chaired by Gerald Cunningham.
Earth Day Open House
On April 24th, the whole MSGC Executive celebrate Earth Day by participating in the Metis Settlements Climate Change Initiative’s Earth Day open house. It was a very well attended event that included educational forums, a youth poster competition, and open discussions about climate leadership.
Meeting with Minister Feehan
On April 25th, President Cunningham had a meeting with Minister Feehan to discuss MSGC priorities, the Financial Allocation Policies for the year, the Long Term Agreement, the Metis Settlements Appeals Tribunal review process, and Alberta’s role in MSGC’s engagement process with the Federal Government.
Metis Settlements Strategic Training Initiatives Review
On April 26th, President Gerald Cunningham, Vice President Darren Calliou, Treasurer Sherry Cunningham, and Elected Secretary Dot Anderson met with consultant Marie Delorme to discuss the report she drafted based on the review she was retained to conduct on MSSTI. The report is quite detailed and more work will be ongoing in the coming months.
MSGC Board Meetings
MSGC held Board of Director meetings on April 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. At the April 27th meeting, a number of presentations were arranged on a variety of issues. Firefox Solutions provided an overview of fires safety products and offered to do assessments in each Settlement. Maria David Evans, the Legal Aid CEO, discussed an opportunity for MSGC to collaborate with Legal Aid to help reconnect youth to the communities. Finally, Laura Ehrkamp, Press Secretary to Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, attended for an impromptu meet and greet.
Fishing Lake Skate Park Grand Opening
On April 28th, Vice President Darren Calliou and Elected Secretary Dot Anderson attended the grand opening of the new youth skate park in the Fishing Lake Metis Settlement. It is a wonderful project designed to keep youth active. MSGC was honoured to be invited to attend.
Also on April 28th, President Gerald Cunningham attended the annual Esquao Awards. He offered greetings and congratulation on behalf of MSGC. An Executive often attends the event which recognizes the important contributions of indigenous women.
Transition Allowance Policy
Treasurer Sherry Cunningham took the lead to ensure that a revised Transition Allowance Policy was in place prior to the upcoming elections in October. The new transition allowance policy will come into effect on May 14, 2017.