President Chartier Appears before the Standing Committee on Official Languages

The Committee’s study is entitled Linguistic Duality during the 150th Anniversary Celebrations of Canadian Confederation in 2017, through which they wish to hear views, including those of the Métis National Council, on what the federal government can do to ensure that linguistic duality (English and French) is fully integrated into the 150th anniversary celebrations of Confederation.  They were also interested in knowing what organizations need to make sure that they can deliver services and programming in both official languages en route to 2017 and beyond.

In his interventions, President Chartier made it clear that they were not there as an organization, but rather as the representative of the Métis Nation government, and as one of three orders of government recognized by the Canadian Constitution, a significant development since the 100th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 1967.  It is within this context that President Chartier and Elder Fleury based their interventions.

In order to place matters in perspective, President Chartier reminded the Committee that three years after confederation, the Métis under Louis Riel negotiated the entry of the Métis Nation into confederation through the incorporation of Ruperts Land and the North Western Territory into confederation through the Manitoba Act 1870. While also protecting a Métis land base within the new province of Manitoba, the 1870 Act, part of the Constitution of Canada, also entrenched French language rights and denominational schools today enjoyed by Franco-Manitobans.

President Chartier proposed that the Committee recommend that the federal government take into account the fact that Parliament in 1992 declared Louis Riel a founder of confederation and that planning and events surrounding 2017 also address  2020,  the 150th anniversary of the Métis Nation joining confederation through the Manitoba Act 1870, as part of the celebrations. In this context, as Michif was the language of the founders of the province of Manitoba, the Métis Nation, and incorporates a significant part of the French language, it should be part of the celebrations through federal support for its revitalization, promotion and use.

In this context, Elder Fleury stated that “it was important that the Michif language be safeguarded, receive federal fiscal support, and be supplemented by federal government financing for the expansion and in most cases the establishment of cultural, heritage and language institutions in order to promote the existence of the Métis Nation as well as preserve the history of the Métis, with emphasis on the Michif language”.

In terms of Métis Nation engagement in the lead-up to 2017/2020, President Chartier informed the Committee that the federal government and the Métis National Council entered into a government-to-government relationship through the Métis Nation Protocol in 2008 and that this was a vehicle which could be used to ensure effective Métis Nation participation.  In this connection, President Chartier proposed the striking of a multi-department committee of senior government officials to engage with Métis Nation officials.

A common theme from all of the witnesses, which found support from the committee, was the need to engage youth.

Click here to see President Chartier’s presentation.

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