Six northern Métis communities are leaving the Métis Nation of Alberta association to create a new organization.
Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis, made the announcement on Thursday, saying he considers the MNA “a club, not a government.”
Quintal said the MNA only has authority over nations that choose to be represented by it, and now six have chosen to leave the organization:
- Athabasca Landing
- Owl River
- Willow Lake
- Fort McKay
On its website, the MNA describes itself as “the Métis government for Métis Albertans.” Its stated goal is to “advance the socio-economic and cultural well-being of the Métis people of Alberta.”
But Quintal said the organization hasn’t accomplished that for the Fort McKay Métis.
“We’ve gotten absolutely zero support, or zero dollars from the Métis Nation of Alberta for any programs or services,” he said.
While the newly formed Alberta Métis Federation has a chairperson, Quintal said it will be “leaderless.”
The new organization, he said, “allows communities to have their own say in the greater context of the Métis nation.”
The Fort McKay Métis wasn’t allowed to be involved in conversations on reconciliation, governance or finances, Quintal said.
“We were completely locked out,” he said.
The new federation will now send a letter to the federal and provincial governments to discuss how it intends to move forward.
Quintal said the new federation will give communities more control over their own affairs, and will allow them to consult directly with the federal government, instead of going through the MNA.
“We’re just trying to represent our members,” said Quintal.
Justin Bourque, vice-president of the Willow Lake Métis, said his group left the MNA because its president was not welcome at regional council meetings.
He said the Willow Lake Métis wanted more say in consultation with industry, and community members have been clear that they want the in-fighting to end.
“The years of the Métis battling against the Métis and not progressing the Métis agenda is gone,” he said. “The years of us collectively working together to progress as a nation is today.”
The Métis Nation of Alberta did not respond to CBC’s request for comment.
But on Wednesday the organization issued a news release saying that MNA locals were rallying against the efforts of some communities to create “Métis Community Associations.”
The MNA said it represents more than 3,000 people in northeastern Alberta, and now “a few individuals … are attempting to speak for over 3,000 Métis rights holders without even engaging these citizens and without any consultation, authorization or transparency.”
“What’s going on is divide and conquer,” Cameron MacDonald, president of MNA local 125 in Fort Chipewyan, said in the release. “Neighbours, friends and families are being divided by these tactics.
“Last week, our community in Fort Chipewyan rejected breaking away from the MNA. Now, a few individuals want to overturn the will of our citizens. This is not right.”
Quintal said other Métis nations are also looking to separate from the MNA.