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.