Thank you for the invitation. I assume there are a number of people here who are new to the Parliament and possibly new to the Métis nation.
Very quickly, we're an indigenous people who evolved into a new and distinct nation in primarily western Canada. Our traditional homeland is now encompassed by the three prairie provinces and extends into a contiguous part of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, and the northern United States.
Basically, the Métis National Council is the governmental body mandated to represent the Métis nation, and we do so at national and international levels. We engage in intergovernmental processes in Canada, such as the first ministers' meeting on climate change that took place last week.
We have a lot of challenges. We were dispossessed from our lands and resources in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The exception is, of course, in Alberta. The provincial government in 1938 established Métis settlements. There are currently eight Métis settlements in Alberta. That's an exception, but that's a provincial government initiative.
After 1870, with the fall of the Métis nation in defending itself against Canada, we were treated as individuals and no longer as a collective, and we were dealt with through a scrip process in contradistinction to treaties entered into with first nations as collectivities. We were dealt with as individuals, and the federal government's scrip process was meant to extinguish our aboriginal title.
We are challenging that. We filed a case in 1994, the Morin case in northwest Saskatchewan. It's sitting there because we don't have the money to take it forward, but nevertheless the challenge is there.
In Blais, unasked, the Supreme Court of Canada in 2003 stated that scrip speculation and devaluation were part of a sorry chapter in Canada's history. In Powley on the same day, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that Métis are full-fledged rights-bearing aboriginal peoples, and their rights are no less than those of first nations or other aboriginal peoples. In Cunningham in 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that the Métis have the right to determine their own citizenship.
In Daniels, which is currently before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court appeal division stated that the Métis fall under number 24 of section 91, which is “Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians”, and therefore the federal Parliament has the necessary constitutional authority and responsibility or jurisdiction to enter into a government-to-government relationship with the Métis nation.
Of course, that appeal was argued on October 8 of last year, and we're currently awaiting a decision unless of course the current government withdraws its cross-appeal. CAP appealed it to expand the ruling. Canada counter-appealed to say neither the Métis nor non-status Indians fit within that term. I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in November asking that the cross-appeal be withdrawn. I have not heard to date whether it will or will not be.
With regard to exclusions, the Métis nation is no stranger to exclusion. The only veterans in Canada from World War II who haven't been dealt with are the Métis nation veterans. Métis residential schools are excluded from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, excluded from the June 2008 apology in Parliament, and excluded from the mandate, and hence, also the recommendations or calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We're excluded from the majority of federal programs such as those of the first nations and inuit health branch, and post-secondary education assistance. We would invite a cap if we had something to cap. In any event, we're also excluded from the various land claims processes, again our only recourse being the courts, and as I say the 1994 statement of claim is just sitting there because there is no way we can afford to move forward.
I'll now talk about priorities on the positive side and about embracing the change in government.
During the campaign, the Liberal Party stated that Canada must complete the unfinished work of Confederation by establishing a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with the Métis nation. The platform or the policy put out by the party is in your kit. Of course we're looking to the government now to act on it.
There are a number of commitments, and it was unprecedented, and we have been working with the Trudeau government to put it into action.
The most critical test of the policy will be whether the federal government is willing to negotiate and reach just and lasting settlements of the unique rights and claims of the Métis nation. As its Métis nation policy rightly recognizes, it is essential to how reconciliation with the Métis people will finally be meaningfully advanced and achieved. The policy committed to by the current government is to immediately establish a negotiations process between Canada and the Manitoba Métis Federation, to settle the outstanding land claim of the Manitoba Métis community, as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada, decided in 2013. In fact, the government is acting quickly to engage the Manitoba Métis Federation in this process, and we look forward to the results.
This government also committed to establishing a federal claims process that sets out a framework to address Métis rights, protected by section 35 of the Constitution, which recognizes Métis self-government and would resolve outstanding Métis claims against the crown.