At a meeting on Saturday, an estimated 4,000 people voted unanimously in favor of a treaty between the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Crown.
Voting took place at a meeting in Assiniboia Downs, online and from eight satellite locations, Will Goodon, the housing minister of the Manitoba Métis Federation, told Breaking: on Sunday.
“Yesterday was just an amazing day, with so many people coming together to make amends for what was done to our people over 150 years ago,” he said.
The Métis are the only indigenous nation to have negotiated a province into Confederation through the Manitoba Act in 1870, Goodon said, but promises of economic opportunity and land for the Métis went unfulfilled after the bill was passed.
“We had to get 1.4 million acres of land for our children. We had to get the river lots for our families, our languages and schools,” Goodon said.
“We had no place to live. We were driven out by the diaspora. We lived on road money.”
The new treaty covers education, housing, healthcare, childcare, as well as harvesting and self-government rights, Goodon said. The treaty is special because it is between the citizens of Red River Métis and the Crown, he said.
David Chartrand, president of the MMF, said the treaty is 153 years in the making and shows the persistence of the Métis.
“We have waited a long time. We have paid a high price for standing up for our history, our culture and rights,” he told Breaking: at Saturday’s meeting.
He said it was probably the largest gathering of MMF citizens ever.
“No doubt (Louis) Riel is smiling at us.”
The treaty builds on a self-government agreement the MMF made with Canada two years ago, Goodon said. The Prime Minister or Minister of Indigenous Relations will be in Manitoba in September to sign the treaty.
The treaty recognizes the MMF’s ability to make and enforce their own laws, he said.
“Today, our citizens will finally be able to make progress.”