Fort McKay Metis React To Alberta Court Lawsuit Dismissal Against MNA

The rift between the Metis Nation of Alberta and the Fort McKay Metis Community Association has hit a peak.

A lawsuit filed last week by the Fort McKay Metis Community Association against the Metis Nation of Alberta is being dismissed.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench rejected the FMMCA’s claim that only it represents the Metis in Fort McKay and that governments and industry should only consult with it on resource development projects in the Fort McKay area.

In a release, MNA President Audrey Poitras says they are very pleased with the decision.

“It affirms that the MNA continues to represent our citizens in relation to consultation with the Crown and industry in the Fort McKay area. We will continue to fight to make sure the voices of MNA citizens and communities across the province are heard through democratic governance structures, not ones controlled by a few individuals with no accountability to the Mtis Nation.”

According to a summary of the decision, Justice Gates of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench agreed with the MNA on all points and dismissed the Lawsuit completely.

Gates says the claim “failed to meet the necessary requirements” and that “the issues (raised by the MNA) are not mere weaknesses in the Local Associations’ case. They are obstacles, which are plainly and obviously insurmountable.”

The MNA says they signed a Metis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement with Canada in June 2019.

The agreement recognizes the MNA is mandated to represent the Metis Nation within Alberta, that the MNA has an inherent right to self-government and that the MNA has been mandated to implement its inherent right to self-government, as per the Constitution Act.

Fort McKay Mtis Nation President Ron Quintal and Board of Director showcasing self-governance Constitution in May 2019// Jaryn Vecchio – Harvard Broadcasting

FMMCA Calling Decision A ‘Moot Point’

In spite of the decision, the FMMCA feel the court has clarified a path forward for an injunction proceeding, something the group says it will aggressively pursue.

In a release, Fort McKay President Ron Quintal argued the MNA is a club and not a government and they do not act in the best interests of local Metis, and in particular, Northern Metis communities.

“It is interested in pretending and imposing to be a government that get dollars for consultation and negotiation. Theirs is a money grab, and a power grab,” Quintal said.

The release refers to the Boucher v. MNA court decision, back in January 2009, where the courts ruled the MNA must stop representing itself as a “government” of all Metis people in Alberta.

That decision held that the MNA is not a body that governs all Metis people but a society that can only claim jurisdiction over the people who have a membership in the MNA Society.

Speaking to Mix News, Quintal says this recent ruling does nothing but show the MNA does not represent the interests of Fort McKay.

“What it fundamentally does is it makes it very clear for Metis communities within the spectrum that Fort McKay operates that there is a real cause for concern in that the MNA is going to be coming after your agreements.”

The FMMCA notes the MNA has interjected itself into regulatory consultation and negotiations affecting northern Metis communities, particularly those that do business in the oil sands.

Quintal says his message to other Metis is to tear up their MNA cards and take control of what’s happening within their communities.

“We just want to plant that seed. Realistically, it’s about us driving the message forward to not just industry but government that it’s going to be the communities at large, impacted by the development, who are going to be the ones in charge and they are going to be at the steering wheel.”

While Quintal does have slight concerns of any division this may cause, he says it doesn’t compare to the division caused by the MNA.

He says all the MNA is doing, is holding the community’s hostage.

“It is only attempting to hold onto locals in our community for the purpose of usurping authority, for the purpose of consulting on our own and we’ve been saying that all along. This is just more conclusive evidence of that.”

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