Six Mtis communities are planning to separate from the Mtis Nation of Alberta Association and form their own coalition.
The Fort McKay Mtis Nation, the Willow Lake Mtis Nation, the Chard Mtis Community, the Owl River Mtis Community, the Athabasca Mtis Community, and the Lakeland Mtis Community announced on Thursday they were forming the Alberta Mtis Federation.
This ‘democratic organization’ will now represent the needs of these communities.
Speaking to reporters, Willow Lake Vice-President Justin Bourque says they’re frustrated with how the MNAA consults and oversees them.
“The years of the Mtis battling the Mtis and not progressing the Mtis agenda is gone, the years of us working collectively together to progress as a nation is today.”
The AMF will oversee the six communities, however, it won’t be the negotiator during any consultations or receive any funds from future agreements.
It will be used as an ‘umbrella’ where the six groups can share information and resources.
Ron Quintal, President of the Fort McKay Mtis Nation, argues this isn’t about dissolving the MNAA rather, highlighting who gets to make the decisions for their communities.
“The MNA can still maintain whoever doesn’t leave but, from our perspective, we’re just trying to represent our local communities so that it’s much clearer not just to industry and government but to ourselves who represents who.”
The coalition could soon have one more member. The Conklin Mtis are planning to continue consultation efforts with their members before making a final decision.
Moving forward, the AMF’s first task is reaching out to the federal and provincial governments.
“The Mtis Nation of Alberta Association is currently receiving funds from the federal government for our six communities,” said Dwayne Roth, AMF Chair. “They should not be getting funding for our communities anymore, that funding needs to be diverted back to the communities where it rightfully belongs.”
MNNA Speaks Out
The Mtis Nation of Alberta Association is calling out the six communities for not properly consulting their members.
They believe the majority of Mtis peoples would rather stay with them instead of separating.
The Fort McMurray Mtis, Fort Chipewyan Mtis, and Lac La Biche Mtis are expressing their support for the parent organization.
“What’s going on is divide and conquer; neighbours, friends, and families are being divided by these tactics,” said Cameron MacDonald, President of the Fort Chipewyan Mtis. “A handful of self-interested people in a room in Fort McMurray can’t make decisions for all of our communities or the Mtis Nation.”
The MNNA adds these communities’ decision will have a negative impact on the rest of their membership.
James Cardinal, MNA Region One President, says this will take benefits from the oilsands away.
“A move in this direction is comparable to taking food from the tables of Mtis families who bear the burdens and impacts of resource development on their rights. We can’t let a few individuals ignore the collective and democratic will of the majority.”
-with files from Steph Seidel