Members of the MSGC Executive have been hitting the pavement and getting in front of provincial and federal politicians to build relationships. These political relationships will help advocate for the Settlements in the Legislature and Parliament, and that is why getting them informed is a top priority. The year 2019 has already been a substantial year for elections in Alberta, and there is still one more: the 2019 Federal Election.
For Alberta, a change in government, a new Premier with a new Cabinet, and priorities to create jobs and to be more efficient with spending presents an important opportunity for the Metis Settlements. Building a good working relationship with Premier Kenney and his Ministers and MLAs is vital for the Executive to achieve results for Settlement Members.
In addition to these two important elections, Canada is now in the midst of the 2019 federal election campaign. The campaign began on September 11, 2019. It will last 41 days, with Election Day taking place on October 21, 2019. This means that candidates and leaders from all the parties are on the road and campaigning, holding events and taking meetings where the MSGC Executive can connect with them. The campaign is creating opportunities to raise awareness about the Settlements and the issues that are important to members.
Throughout the summer, the Executive have been taking every opportunity to attend events, setup meetings, and get in front of provincial and federal leaders. This year is all about building recognition of the Settlements, their unique history, and their needs, which have not been properly considered by previous governments at all levels. One of the ways the Executive is trying to change this is by focusing less time on meeting with bureaucrats and more time speaking to and meeting with elected decision makers. This summer has been a busy one and below is an update on what the Executive has been doing to inform, educate, and build relationships.
At the beginning of July, MSGC President Herb Lehr travelled to Calgary for the Stampede Investment Forum on invitation from Alberta’s Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson and Premier Jason Kenney. The Stampede Investment Forum takes place during the Calgary Stampede and brings together business leaders, political leaders, and community leaders from across Alberta and beyond.
President Lehr participated in several events and attended the Premier’s Investment Luncheon at his invitation. The President was able to meet with several members of the provincial government and business leaders. Minister Wilson, as a result, has worked diligently to arrange meetings with officials from multiple ministries to address Settlement issues.
In addition, Vice President Roechelle Gaudet and Treasurer Sherry Cunningham attended a number of events. Both joined more than a thousand Metis at the annual Back to Batoche celebrations in Saskatchewan. Sherry and Fishing Lake Councillor Karen Telford met with Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, during the celebrations.
Throughout the month, Executives were able to meet with Federal Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi, Opposition Leader and Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer, Member of Parliament Matt Jeneroux, Member of Parliament David Yurdiga, Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel, and several others, all as part of the mission to build strategic relationships with decision-makers across all orders of government.
At the end of July, Herb and Sherry had the privilege of joining Councillor Harold Blyan of Buffalo Lake and Councillor Chad Cardinal of Kikino at a ceremony at the Alberta Legislature honouring Korean War veterans. The ceremony included recognition of Mr. Harry Hope, a brave member of Kikino Settlement who served Canada and our Settlements proudly in the conflict.
Throughout the month of August, meetings continued with the provincial government on a variety of files. Minister Wilson met with the Assembly on August 8. The Minister has been very supportive of MSGC’s efforts to engage the new government across all departments and not just with Indigenous Relations. This commitment has resulted in meetings with senior officials in Municipal Affairs, Health, and Energy.
There have also been three separate meetings in August on harvesting. The Government of Alberta is open to receiving feedback on its harvesting policy and the Settlements are trying to have reasonable amendments made to improve Members’ ability to hunt. There are also changes that MSGC is seeking to be made on the consultation policy and those discussions are also ongoing. Alberta has indicated that it is open to amendments, but those are still under consideration.
Finally, it was an honour for members of the Executive to attend the 30th anniversary ofthe Kikino Silverbirch Rodeo. Roechelle and Sherry joined Minister Wilson and his colleague, MLA Laila Goodridge, at the rodeo. Minister Wilson and MLA Goodridge were given a tour of the Settlement.
On September 10, Herb traveled to Regina, SK, where he connected with the Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lawrence MacAulay. They were both at an event to honour and recognize the contributions and sacrifices of Metis veterans who fought in the Second World War. This recognition went unacknowledged until this year, 75 years later, and was an important commemoration.
During the campaign period, the Executive is working hard to meet with as many candidates as possible. On September 12, Sherry attended Prime Minister Trudeau’s Alberta campaign launch in Edmonton with East Prairie Chair Harry Supernault, Fishing Lake Vice Chair Karen Telford, and Gift Lake Councillor Ed Anderson.
Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu visited both Elizabeth and Fishing Lake on September 18 to address challenges related to the ID349 revenue sharing agreement. Both Elizabeth and Fishing Lake are part of the group of communities involved in the agreement.
On Monday, September 23, the Executive met with the Liberal candidate in Edmonton Centre, Randy Boissonnault. Randy has been the Member of Parliament in that riding since 2015 and has often advocated for groups whose voices have not always been heard. It is the Executive’s hope that should he get re-elected, Randy will be an advocate for the Settlements as well. The Executive is also confirming meetings with NDP Candidate in Edmonton Strathcona Heather McPherson, Conservative MP and candidate for Edmonton Riverbend Matt Jeneroux, and several others.
On September 18, MSGC Vice President Roechelle Gaudet was in Vancouver to attend the campaign launch of now- independent candidate Jody Wilson- Raybould. Jody has been an important Indigenous voice in parliament and speaks truth to power, even when it costs her. She is an important role-model for our Indigenous peoples all across Canada.
On September 25, Fishing Lake welcomed Member of Parliament Shannon Stubbs to their community. Shannon represents Buffalo Lake, Fishing Lake and Kikino in the House of Commons as the member for Lakeland riding in Alberta. She was treated to a tour of the Settlement and also met with members of the MSGC Executive.
Finally, to round out a busy September, Treasurer Sherry Cunningham attended a last-minute campaign rally on September 28 in Edmonton Centre featuring Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Premier Jason Kenney. It was a brief opportunity to connect with both leaders and the Executive looks forward to sitting down with both in the future.
On October 10, 2019, the President and Treasurer attended the offices of Sam Lilly, MP candidate for Edmonton Strathcona. The purpose of the meeting was to educate Mr. Lilly on the history of the Metis Settlements etc. Mr. Lilly appreciated being informed of the uniqueness of the Metis Settlements. Requests have also been placed with other MP candidates with hopes of meets and greets prior to the October 21, 2019 Federal Election
The MSGC Executive members have also extended invitations to several key provincial cabinet members to visit the MSGC Assembly and the Metis Settlements. So far, invitations have been
Hon. Jason Kenney, Premier
Hon. Rick Wilson, Ministry of Indigenous Relations
Hon. Sonya Savage, Ministry of Energy
Hon. Kaycee Madu, Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Hon. Tyler Shandro, Ministry of Health
Hon. Josephine Pon, Ministry of Seniors & Housing
All of these meetings are in addition to ongoing commitments in the Settlements. Invitations will be extended to other Ministers as well.