The MNC and Governing Members, together with officials from the Governing Members’ ISETS (employment and training) and capital corporations (business development) operations, met in Vancouver on December 5, 2019, to advance the planning of the fourth Métis Economic Development Symposium (MEDS IV) in Vancouver on March 3-5, 2020.
Earlier MEDS conferences in 2009, 2011 and 2015 brought the Métis Nation leadership and economic development specialists together with federal and provincial government ministers and industry leaders to discuss the development of a Métis Nation economic development strategy and build on best practices to advance the economic priorities of the Métis Nation. These conferences contributed to the signing of the Métis Economic Development Accord at MEDS III 2015 which was resourced by a $25 million federal investment by the Trudeau government in its first budget in 2016.
This was followed by the signing of a Canada-Métis Nation Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Development in 2018 which expanded the scope of the Métis Nation economic development strategy to encompass the following priorities:
- Access to capital for Métis Nation entrepreneurs and financial institutions;
- Access of Métis businesses to procurement opportunities of the federal government and potentially the federally regulated sector of the Canadian economy;
- Enhancing economic and business infrastructure of Métis Nation communities;
- Métis participation in major economic and resource development projects including support for Métis Nation equity participation in these projects;
- Access of Métis Nation initiated projects to Canada’s infrastructure, green infrastructure and clean growth spend;
- Strengthening the role of Métis Nation institutions in advancing economic development; and
- Expanding partnerships with federal departments and agencies, provinces, and the private sector including the continuation of the Métis Economic Development Symposium process.
Canada’s Budget 2019 responded to the access to capital priority with a $50 million investment over 5 years in the Métis Capital Corporations which was backed by the Canada-Métis Nation Economic Development Sub-Accord.
The Liberal Party’s recent election platform committed to advancing the priorities of the Métis Nation including:
- Addressing critical infrastructure needs in Métis Nation communities by 2030, and providing new investments to support the ongoing operation and maintenance of this infrastructure.
- Establishing a new national benefits-sharing framework to ensure that Métis Nation communities directly benefit from major resource projects.
- Moving forward with a new target to have at least five percent of federal contracts awarded to businesses led by Indigenous Peoples.
The government’s Throne Speech on December 5, 2019, provided further impetus to action on these Métis Nation economic development priorities.
MEDS IV is expected to build on this momentum and address new emerging challenges and opportunities in the rapidly changing economy. Under the MEDS IV theme Building Wealth for the Métis Nation, the planning session chaired by MNBC President Clara Morin Dal Col looked at how to make the conference a success in advancing the economic interests of the Métis people in four sub-theme areas:
- building equity in businesses, major projects, and homeownership;
- building markets through procurement programs, major projects and trade and tourism;
- building human capital through accelerated and innovative education and training programs and services of the Métis Nation; and
- building the clean growth economy.
An important component of Canada’s climate change and clean growth strategy is Bill C-69 including an Impact Assessment Act which seeks to promote reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous peoples as an integral part of assessing the impact of economic and resource development projects, a critical piece of the project approval process. Two Métis Nation members of the new Indigenous Advisory Committee established by the Act, Elmer Ghostkeeper from Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement (Co-chair of the Committee) and lawyer Kyle Vermette, were on hand to brief the planning session on these developments. (see the powerpoint presentation of Mr. Ghostkeeper attached)
MEDS IV will play a significant role in the Métis Nations’ engagement of Canada, the Provinces and industry to collaborate on enhancing economic prospects for Métis people and boosting the Canadian economy.
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INDIGENOUS PARTICIPATION UNDER THE IMPACT ASSESSMENT ACT – by Elmer Ghostkeeper