In March 2018, the Fort McKay Métis made national headlines by announcing that they had taken the unprecedented step of buying the land on which they live. This was a huge step towards self-determination.
Today, the McKay Métis are celebrating an even more dramatic and historic milestone that will reverberate across Canada and set a precedent that will change the Indigenous landscape forever.
On May 23, the members of the McKay community voted whether or not to adopt:
- A Constitution which will declare self-government .
- An Elections Act, which sets up a ballot-box election every four years run by an independent Returning Officer .
- A Membership Act, which sets out membership criteria following the National definition of Métis, as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Powley case. McKay is the first Métis community to set its own membership code for lifetime membership regardless of residency.
- A Governance Act that sets up a Fort McKay Métis Nation Council and a Fort McKay Métis Nation Assembly as its governing bodies supported by an Elders Council, Women's Council and a Youth Council.
The vote has passed and a celebration of self-determination is scheduled for today in Fort McMurray. Now, the Fort McKay Métis will be the first community in Canada to take this major step away from dependence on regional Métis organizations, like the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA). The implications of this include nation-to-nation negotiations with Canada and provincial governments, as opposed to those negotiations being brokered by the Métis Nation of Alberta.
"We realise we are the first and are leading Métis communities into uncharted territory. For that reason we have invested a great deal of work to make sure this was done right and that other communities have a model to follow."
Ron Quintal, President of Fort McKay Métis
"We believe this is a first for any local Métis community in Canada. Our actions follow self-government declarations by Métis organizations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and BC. Aboriginal people have an inherent right of self-determination recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
Dwayne Roth, CEO and Corporate Counsel for the Fort McKay Métis