Rick Hardy, leader of the Fort Norman Métis Community, says there’s a lot of support and no opposition to a new group being formed to lobby for Métis rights. (Alex Brockman/CBC) A move to establish a group uniting Métis from Mackenzie River communities has advanced from an idea to reality.
At a meeting last weekend in Fort Providence, N.W.T., Métis from five communities established a council and decided to incorporate the Mackenzie River Métis Collective.
The group is being organized to push the federal government to make good on the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2016 decision, which says the federal government has the same obligations to Métis as it does to First Nations and Inuit people.
The MRMC plans to push the federal government to put Métis on an equal footing, in terms of services, with other Indigenous people.
Ottawa provides for things such as post-secondary education, economic development support and payment of non-insured health benefits, which cover the cost of things such as dental care, eyeglasses and medication.
"At the present time the federal government delivers all of those programs to Indian and Inuit people," said organizer Rick Hardy, who is also president of the Fort Norman Métis. "They don’t deliver any of those to Métis people."
The N.W.T. government covers non-insured health benefits for Métis who live in the territory, but Hardy says any Métis residents who move out of the territory lose those benefits.
Hardy says Métis organizations in Fort Simpson, Fort Providence, Inuvik, Tulita and Fort Good Hope support the formation of the new group.
"The important thing is that there is no community organization or individual Métis that I’m aware of that has expressed any opposition to what is going on," said Hardy.
The new group will have a narrow focus on advocating for Métis rights, said Hardy. It will have no involvement in the individual organizations’ negotiation of land claims or self-government. Incorporating itself as a non-profit society will allow it to apply for federal funding.
"Also it’s important in showing anyone who is interested in joining what the rules are under which it will operate," Hardy said.
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