Evidence of meeting #6 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was métis.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:50 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

No. We led the process and our three capital corporations are driving it. They've come up with an agreement as to how they're going to administer it. There's no increase in the administration, so it's basically all going out. I think it's going to be very successful.

In terms of the MREDs, the major resource and energy development funds, the federal government and Saskatchewan invested $6 million of equity capital in a fund fully owned and operated by a Métis nation institution, the Clarence Campeau Development Fund. In Manitoba the provincial government and that federal government invested $4 million in an equity capital fund owned and operated by the Metis Economic Development Organization out of the Manitoba Métis Federation. As Marc mentioned, and I just said, the provincial government in Ontario, in agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario, has created a $30 million fund for Métis business development over 10 years. Again, this was an outgrowth of the dialogue that took place in the symposiums that we had. In Manitoba, the Manitoba government set aside $10 million for Métis economic development in that province.

In terms of the private sector, we invite the private sector to these symposiums as well. We're making good relationships with them, not at our insistence but of the industry itself. An example is Synovis and the Métis community of Conklin, Alberta, who reached a resource revenue sharing agreement. I think it's estimated to be about $40 million to $60 million over 40 years, depending on the growth.

Those are examples of where the Métis Nation sitting with government and industry can make substantial progress.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

We only have our witnesses for an hour and we want to take advantage of that full hour, so we're going to go into the second round.

I'm going to give Mr. Bevington just three minutes, as I understand he has a short question. And, if he can ask a very short question, I think Mr. Rafferty has a question as well. If that is possible, then we'll give three minutes to each side as well.

October 18th, 2011 / 11:55 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Thanks, I'll move quickly on this, Mr. Chair.

My question to you is about those who are not here at the table, the NWT Métis Nation. You said there was no one involved in land negotiations, but they are. Is that not correct?

Yes, so we have one Métis group in Canada that has definitely been recognized as part of the land negotiation, through their inclusion in the original comprehensive claim in the Northwest Territories. Would it be a good idea to have these guys in front of this committee to hear their position? I ask because their success in negotiating land in the Northwest Territories may also assist in the struggle your people have right across the country.

11:55 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

Yes, I fully agree. That may be part of the reason too--but you'd have to ask them--why they're not too closely associated. But they are the exception.

Even though scrip was distributed in the Northwest Territories, the federal government in its wisdom has decided to renegotiate, or to negotiate for the first time. Hopefully that will set a precedent for south of 60 as well.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Mr. Rafferty, did you have a question?

11:55 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Yes, thank you, Chair.

This is perhaps for Clém, or even John can answer this question. It's an educational question.

You have lots of members in my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River. The issue that comes up the most for your members in my riding is post-secondary education and being able to afford that post-secondary education. Métis members go through the regular process like every other Canadian does now.

What would you like to see for your members in the way of federal government jurisdiction, or at least help, in terms of post-secondary schooling for Métis families in your jurisdiction?

11:55 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

I think it's of tremendous help to individuals in the Métis community or the first nations community, or the Indian community, to have assistance for education without having to face a large debt when they get through. I know that some of the people in my community are looking to see their kids go to university, but they don't know how to get the resources to do that.

I'll use myself as an example. I went to law school in the early 1970s. At that time, the Government of Saskatchewan had the NRIM program, the non-registered Indian Métis program. We received the same allowances that status Indians got for books, for living allowances, for tuition.

So I was fortunate to be able to get through three years of law school without incurring a big debt. Well, I probably couldn't have gone without it.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Would the goal, then, to be on par with first nations students, for example?

11:55 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

That would be the ideal, but certainly any kind of assistance we can get would also be good—and substantially more than what's in place now. Certainly to be able to move in that direction would be good.

In terms of health, a program from the 2004 accord enabled moneys for Métis to enter into medical fields, into health fields of various kinds. That funding is still in place. Many people have taken advantage of that. It does help. There's been a big increase in the number of Métis nurses and Métis entering other medical professions.

So I think that can be taken as an example.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

The final questioner will be Mr. Seeback for three minutes.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Great.

Clément, and everyone, I want to thank you for coming today. It's been very informative to me as a person with limited information on some of these issues. So I thank you for the information you've given me. I've found it to be very informative and helpful.

I just want to take a moment to go back to page 8 of your opening statement, where you talked about “strengthening the governance capacity of the Métis Nation to administer and deliver important services such as economic development”.

Can you paint a picture for me and explain to me how you envision that coming to fruition?

11:55 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

Essentially, as I mentioned earlier, we get some funding from the federal government. A lot of it is on a project basis, which causes us grief because of the funding cycles.

Currently, with our core funding, which should be a no-brainer and should just flow, we don't sign contribution agreements until, say, August. We have to operate from April 1 to August.

In terms of the environment, we just found out several weeks ago that we're not getting funding for some of the environmental projects that we've been getting funding for in the past. We'd retained the staff person to continue carrying out that work and go to meetings. We got caught at the end of the day without funding.

We're looking to have block funding so that we will know what we have at the start of the year, that we will know what we can do and can adjust to the budgets that we feel are important, so that at the end of the day we can make one report as opposed to forty reports.

It's something we are working toward. We are talking to the federal interlocutor about that. How soon we'll get there, I don't know. But it certainly would help us to have determined, dedicated funding amounts so that we could operate without having to worry about that and without having to go to the banks and getting loans at exorbitant interest rates and so on.

That essentially is what we're looking at.

Noon

Bilateral Coordinator, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

I'll give you an example. The registries are very important because now that the Supreme Court has recognized the Métis as rights-bearing people, you need to know who has the right to hunt and who doesn't have the right to hunt, right? It's a very important issue.

The financing system we're on now is year by year. In the first year of the program, everybody had to lay off their staff in the registries because the funding wasn't secure, but was proposal driven. What we feel is an essential governance service with these registries--and they need to build them--is that they be done by program. So what we want to do is fundamentally implement what the federal Liberal Party brought in with the inherent right to self-government policy. They never applied it to us, so we've never been in negotiations.

We started tripartite self-government negotiations in 1985 after we didn't get a constitutional amendment. They said, “Well, we need to define before we sign”. We said, “Okay, we'll define before we sign”. We started the tripartite process in each province. It was supposed to be about governance; it hasn't been about governance. As for the inherent right policy, it applies to aboriginals, but if you're Métis, it doesn't apply to you.

So what we want to do on the governance thing is to get a government-to-government relationship. As Clém said, we don't want to have to deal with the financing system and the lack of recognition. We want to take a mature, responsible, public policy approach, and if you could help us, that would be great.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

On that note, there are probably still questions to be asked, but as we endeavour to undertake our responsibilities, I'm sure we will have an opportunity to speak again.

Colleagues, I'm going to adjourn this meeting. Then we're going to break for a few minutes so committee members can greet our witnesses. What I want to do, though, is ask those who are in the subcommittee to stick around, because we'll move in camera as expeditiously as possible.

This meeting is adjourned.