The Metis Settlements General Council Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution endorsing, in its entirety, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
The assembly chose to make the endorsement during the Metis Week celebrations, demonstrating that the Metis Settlements are entering a new era of empowerment.
The move comes on the heels of several promising developments for the Metis people and Metis rights in Alberta and Canada. Both the NDP government in Alberta and the Justin Trudeau government in Ottawa have signaled their support for the principles within the UN Declaration. They have also indicated their desire to re-engage with and renew relationships with aboriginal communities.
Also, this past April, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on a milestone Metis rights case, stating in their decision that the federal government does have an obligation to Metis that is like their obligation to First Nations and Inuit peoples.
Gerald Cunningham, president of the Metis Settlements General Council, is pleased.
“The Metis are a unique aboriginal culture within Canada and, with the Metis Settlements in Alberta being the only legislated land based Metis in Canada, these developments have signaled that we are on the verge of a new era for our people.
“Our endorsement of the UN Declaration now is about demonstrating our commitment to a greater, more substantial relationship with all orders of government in Canada, on a government-to-government basis.”
The unanimous resolution closes an incredibly busy Metis Week for the council. Cunningham attended ceremonies in Ottawa at the invitation of Minister Carolyn Bennett. The chairman of Gift Lake Metis Settlement, Howard Shaw, offered remarks at the Riel Day ceremony at the Alberta Legislature; and, several open house events were organized at the Metis Settlements General Council offices in Edmonton.
Cunningham says all the recent activity is very exciting and invigorating.