Thank you, sir. It's an honour to be here.
I'll make this quick. I have some really good notes, and hopefully I can stay focused. It took me a while to get here, but I'm here.
First of all, my name is Lee Thom, and I'm from the Kikino Metis Settlement. Kikino is in northern Alberta. It is two hours north of Edmonton. I'll give you a quick history on the settlement, and then I'll go into my three topics that I've elected to talk about today.
The Metis Settlements of Alberta in 1990 were given the Metis Settlement Accord from the province of the day. That gave 1.2 million acres of fee-simple land, which brought us the land base. We were then given some funding to build our infrastructure and our communities. That was the accord.
With the accord ending in 2011, there was short-term interim funding, which led, in 2013, to the LTA, and now we're at the end of the LTA. The LTA was put in and designed for us to continue our future funding, with schedule J being one part of the LTA that was to give us beneficial ownership of mines and minerals, which didn't happen.
Long story short, and it's a very long story that I'm making short here, in 2017 the Metis Settlements signed an MOU with the federal government and Minister Bennett. A piece of that was to protect our lands through section 35 rights.
A 2018 framework brought a framework agreement with a bunch of items, the main one being health. There are 10 of them, but I won't go through that, as I'm cutting into my time here on my topics, but health was one of the most important ones. Right now the Metis Settlements are in discussion with the province, and always have been, about three main topics: senior services, mental health and addiction.
On senior services, in our community we have right now anywhere from 80 to 100 seniors who have no access to dental or vision support. A lot of barriers come up with transportation, education and training for our local workers and people to supply services. We're told at Metis Settlements that the services are at arm's length, and the hope is that some day we can have facilities that can house the services that are so important to our community as a small municipality.
I'm right off my notes now. I know what I'm talking about. I don't like to be scripted, so I'm just going to continue as Lee Thom.
Mental health and addictions are big contributors to rural crime, senior abuse and problems we have in our community now with youth lacking participation. Program funding for youth to access sports is huge. Creating campaigns that are anti-drug and alcohol.... I really think that health ties to the home: healthier homes, healthier people.
I really believe that addressing mould in our communities and dealing with inefficient housing in the days of climate change now and the movement towards energy efficiency in their homes have a big impact on health. Our homes are inefficient. We're in dire need of funding that supports housing. Housing is tied to health.
We need funding that supports policing. Policing is tied to reduction in rural crime and everything that comes with mental health and addictions and senior abuse. There's so much we can talk about.
I had my scripted notes, and I may have missed a few things here but, as you can tell, I like to speak from my heart, and I like to come as a Métis person from a Métis settlement and make the government understand that we signed two agreements in the past. The 2018 framework agreement identified 10 things again. I want to make that point clear. Since then, we haven't had the traction that we would hope to have that would identify line-item dollars for the Metis Settlements specifically. We tend to be budgeted as Métis communities, and there are a lot of Métis communities, but Alberta is unique. It's the only province that has land-based Métis, and the only province that has land-based Métis with infrastructure, with roads, with staff, administration and elected people.
Good governance is a huge part of our system. Without good governance, programs that we offer to our members, such as 50-50 repair programs, where people can access dollars to repair their homes, to gain medical travel.... Some of the programs that we have in our communities are very important to our members.