By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – The Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has appealed a recent court decision regarding the Alberta government’s termination of negotiations with the organization over the creation of a provincial consultation policy.
The MNA argue that they have been in an agreement with the two previous Alberta government’s to create a consultation policy, but shortly after coming into power in 2019 Indigenous-relations Minister Rick Wilson ceased negotiations without cause.
The policy being drafted would have created a framework for the government on how to consult with the Metis Nation on matters such as provincial resource development.
In response to Kenney’s decision, the MNA sued the Alberta government in June 2019 claiming that the government breached the honour of the crown. This includes the constitutional duties and obligations Alberta owed the MNA after five years of negotiations.
The MNA filed for a judicial review of the Minister’s decision to end negotiations.
In the litigation, the Alberta government denied any negotiations with the MNA, therefore never having breached the honour of the crown. They also denied any duty or obligations to the MNA.
When the lawsuit was filed, MNA president Audrey Poitras was quoted as saying, “Alberta deliberates endlessly on whether to consult with Metis communities using a case-by-case approach that is tangled in red tape and that Alberta’s own bureaucrats have admitted does not work.”
“This is systematic racism in action,” she said.
“After half a decade of work, we are in a worse position than when we started. This government’s action sent a clear message to Indigenous people (that) Alberta won’t negotiate in good faith. If you want your rights respected, you’re better off protesting or blockading or going to court because Alberta doesn’t appear to be able to be trusted.”
Then in January 2022, the Honourable Justice Bernette Ho of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench finally released her decision. In her 75-page decision, she rejected Alberta’s denial of negotiations or that the honour of the crown wasn’t involved.
However, Justice Ho also concluded that Alberta actually met their duties and obligations it owed to the MNA by simply advising them it would not proceed with the Consultation policy.
Thus the MNA has appealed.
MNA President Audrey Poitras said, “The long outstanding and contentious issue of Crown consultation with Alberta Métis continues to undermine both Métis rights and resource development in the province.”
“It is exhausting and disheartening for the Métis, who proudly call this province home, to have to spend so much time, effort and money fighting the Crown for our basic constitutional rights, but we will never give up.”
Press Secretary to the Indigenous-Relations Minister, Adrienne South, released a statement saying, “Alberta’s government values its relationship with the Metis, as shown by our support of affordable housing projects, cultural outreach for Metis Crossing, ongoing supports during the pandemic, and continuous engagement with Alberta’s Metis peoples since form government in 2019.”
“As this is currently before the courts, we cannot comment further on this matter.”