The Metis Nation of Alberta will be holding an election today to vote on its new proposed draft constitution during their annual General Assembly at the Grey Eagle Resort in Calgary.
The draft was released on July 26, proposing a change to the make-up and governance of the MNAA.
Adam Browning, president of the MNAA Lethbridge and Area Local, says this radically alters the structure of how the organization is conducted, noting the provincial council is asking for a vote too soon after the draft’s release and needs proper consultation with all MNAA members.
“The MNAA is pushing for a ratification vote but our Local and members of our local community have not had adequate say on this draft constitution,” says Browning.
“Even when we do get to the point where ratification makes sense, we have no idea what the ratification process will look like, or even what the next election will look like, as the draft constitution is silent on a ratification and election process.”
He added the constitution itself is something Metis want, but the draft is not a product of the right to self-determination that many have worked hard for.
“It radically alters our areas, our local boundaries, and our communities who’ve been part of our local Lethbridge area,” says Browning.
“It also gives broad powers to the president which is something that we’re seeing right now. We have a large amount of federal funding coming in, very little of that trickling down into our community. Some of our communities are at risk of closure. Really what the draft constitution stances are, is taking what we are.”
The MNAA has received funding from the Government of Canada to engage with regions and locals.
Browning says he has contacted Marc Miller, Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to see how the money has been used.
“One of the key people who needs to hear our message is the federal minister Marc Miller. He has the ability, through our funding agreements, to make them transparent,” says Browning.
“We were not able to get a constitution session, we wrote requesting for it. All we got was responses of ‘there’ll be opportunities.’ Anytime there were opportunities, they were giving embargoed documents with people having to sign that they couldn’t share it. So (the draft constitution) was really developed in secret. It’s been developed by a small committee of 10 picked individuals, and it doesn’t have our voice.”
Concern is arising about how the draft would erase Metis locals and change boundaries, encroaching on the powers of the locals and regions with changes influencing governance and outreach to the community.
“We’re going to have to restructure entirely. This seeks our erasure from our governance and our outreach to our community. It’s not to say that it may not continue at a grassroots level, but at a formalized level,” says Browning.
With voting happening today, Browning hopes members will attend the Assembly and vote in support of their interest and sustainability. A special resolution vote on June 4 was passed with only 199 out of 53,000 members voting. This vote resulted in postponing the election of the MNAA’s provincial council by one year from this September until 2023. Browning hopes more members show up to vote on this decision, adding “They need to be here to lend their voices to decisions.”
Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald