The gathering brought together community leaders and Métis Nation citizens from northwest Saskatchewan, northeast Alberta, and the Alberta Métis Settlements. It addressed Métis rights, culture and reconciliation, with a focus on economic development and opportunities in northwest Saskatchewan primarily with a view to developing partnerships with industry and the Wood Buffalo Métis Corporation from northeast Alberta.
On Friday, July 24, 2015, the traditional welcome ceremonies kicked off the Gathering. It featured welcome remarks by Métis leaders and special guests, including awarding of the President’s Recognition Award to Senators Jim Favel and Johnny Woodward, MLA Buckley Belanger and long-time political leader Jim Durocher.
It also addressed the duty to consult and accommodate, Métis rights management under the national Métis economic development strategy and the recently signed Métis Economic Development Accord between the Métis Nation and the federal government.
The highlights of the gathering:
Land & Harvesting Rights Litigation Update and Go Forward Strategy
Kathy Hodgson-Smith and Clément Chartier, of the Métis Legal Research and Education Foundation (MLREF), provided an update on the current status of hunting, fishing and land rights in northwest Saskatchewan and northeast Alberta.
Photo: Professor Dr. Kenichi Matsui, Tsukuba University (Japan)
Professor Dr. Kenichi Matsui, Tsukuba University (Japan), presented on joint research with University of British Columbia professor emeritus Arthur Ray on the Hudsons Bay Company records for Fort McMurray and Fort McKay. In his presentation, he provided the strength and weakness of post journals analysis for Métis history based on the research.
Reconciliation of s.35 (1) Métis Aboriginal Rights
Métis National Council President Clément Chartier and Policy Advisor John Weinstein provided an overview of the mandate and activities of the Minister’s Special Representative (MSR),on Métis section 35 rights reconciliation, Mr. Tom Isaac. They also fielded many questions from delegates who were keenly interested in seeing to it that the unique circumstances and aspirations of the 19 Métis majority communities in northwestern Saskatchewan be conveyed to the MSR.
Economic Opportunities and Relationships
Dwayne Roth (Fort McKay), Kyle Harrietha (Fort McMurray) and Walter Smith (Pinehouse) provided an overview of the economic development experience of their communities. In Walter Smith’s presentation, he presented the ability for Pinehouse to respond to industrial opportunities that emerge in the their territory as a result of the signing of the collaboration agreement with CAMECO and AREVA.
MNC Policy Advisor John Weinstein also provided an update on the Métis Economic Development Strategy being developed under the the Métis Economic Development Accord concluded in March 2015 with the federal government.
Undertaken pursuant to a Protocol entered into between the NWSMC and the NWSMA in 1996, a discussion paper had been prepared and consultations based on that report had been undertaken but eventually the Northern Project was abandoned after the 2007 MNS election. This discussion paper has been updated by the MLREF and it was presented at the Gathering for further discussion.
Celebrating MOU between Fort McKay and Ile a la Crosse