CALGARY, June 4, 2015 /CNW/ - At a meeting with the Métis National Council Board of Governors today, the federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt announced the appointment of Mr. Tom Isaac as the Ministerial Special Representative (MSR) on Métis reconciliation.
The MSR 's dual mandate is to address a reconciliation process that addresses Métis section 35(1) rights and establishes a framework for negotiations with the Manitoba Métis Federation to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Manitoba Métis Federation v. Canada, 2013.
"We are entering into a new era based on the principle that the sovereignty of Canada should be reconciled with the rights and interests of the Métis Nation," said MNC President Clément Chartier.
The MSR will engage with the MNC, its Governing Members, the Métis Settlements General Council and the Provinces in the upcoming months and will report to the Minister by December 18, 2015. The Federal Cabinet and the MNC and Governing Members will then respond to the Special Representative's recommendations and a more specific process of negotiations would follow pending authorization and willingness by the respective parties.
Mr. Isaac joined the Minister at the announcement. He is a nationally recognized authority in the area of Aboriginal law and leads the Aboriginal Law Group at the law firm Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt. He regularly negotiates on behalf of industry and governments in respect of impact, benefit and access agreements with Aboriginal groups, and advises on Aboriginal consultation and accommodation processes and agreements. He told the Métis Nation leaders that he was honored to take up the challenge to reconcile Métis rights and looked forward to meeting the leaders shortly.
MMF President Chartrand stated, "I am encouraged with this recent development. It shows that Canada is slowly coming to grips with the inevitability that a negotiations table with the MMF must be created in order to address the Supreme Court of Canada's decision and the Manitoba Métis Community's outstanding claim against the federal Crown."
MNC Board Members extended their appreciation to the Minister for following up on his participation in their Board meeting in March where the Minister said he would be providing a proposal in response to the recommendations made to him by Mr. Douglas Eyford who had been mandated to look into a new claims resolution process for Canada. They also commended the Minister for his selection of Mr. Isaac.
Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras stated: "We are excited that the Government of Canada is taking action on the Metis specific recommendations contained in the report "A New Direction-Advancing Aboriginal and Treaty Rights" authored by Douglas Eyford. The MNA looks forward to working with Ministerial Special Representative Tom Isaac on the development of a framework to reconcile Metis Section 35 rights and interests."
Métis Nation British Columbia President Bruce Dumont stated: "On behalf of all Métis in British Columbia, we are very pleased with this announcement today and look forward to meeting with Mr. Isaac and discussing S.35 Rights for Métis in British Columbia."
MNO Chair France Picotte stated: "The MNO looks forward to working with Mr. Tom Isaac on the reconciliation of Metis Section 35 rights and interests in the Province of Ontario. The MNO would like to thank Minister Valcourt for following through with his commitment to the Metis Nation."
Women of the Métis Nation President Melanie Omeniho reiterated support for the appointment: "It is a historically exciting time for the Métis people in our homeland with the announcement of the Minister's Special Representative. We look forward to working with Mr. Isaac."
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation's homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. There are approximately 350,000 – 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.
SOURCE Métis National Council
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