Metis District 21 Community Engagement Meet and Greet

Representatives from Metis District 21 of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government (OMG) (formerly the Metis Nation of Alberta) will be visiting Swan Hills to hold a community engagement meet and greet on November 9 at the Keyano Centre from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. The District 21 representatives are eager to get to know the Swan Hills community better while highlighting the programs and services offered by their organization.

In 2019, the MNA (Metis Nation of Alberta) entered into a significant self-government agreement with Canada. This historic accord officially acknowledged the MNA as the rightful representative of the Métis Nation within Alberta, affirming their Indigenous right to self-governance, a right protected by Canada’s Constitution.

Taking a significant stride towards their ultimate goal of self-governance, the MNA successfully ratified the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution in November 2022, gaining the resounding approval of 97% of their voting members.

In a more recent development, the MNA conducted an election for its new government from September 13 to 16, 2023. This election culminated in the establishment of a Citizen’s Council comprised of a President, a Women’s Representative, a Youth Representative, and 22 District Representatives. This action marked the formal transition of the MNA to the Otipemisiwak Métis Government (OMG). The Citizen’s Council members were sworn in on October 15, holding their first meeting on October 16.

As part of this comprehensive restructuring, the six regions previously governed by the MNA have been reorganized into the OMG’s 22 districts, a change aimed at fostering more efficient and localized representation. Swan Hills now lies within Metis District 21.

Brenda Genaille, Executive Director for Metis District 21, explains that the different programs and services they offer are mostly proposal-based. Some of the current programs include an upcoming workshop on traditional birthing practices, community gardens, community food boxes, weekly youth programs, hunting and trapping, and a caribou monitoring program. There are also programs offered out of the OMG head office, including housing and health initiatives.

Genaille explains, “We try to always have programs on the go that will directly benefit our citizens.”

The representatives at the engagement session on November 9 will bring a wealth of information about the programs and services offered by Metis District 21 and the OMG head office. They will have citizenship registration forms, harvesting registration, community garden applications, and Christmas Dinner application forms. Snacks and beverages will also be provided.

“We’re really excited to work with this new community in our region,” said Genaille, “and we really look forward to meeting our new citizens out there.”

The upcoming community engagement meet and greet promises to be an excellent opportunity for the Swan Hills community to connect with Metis District 21 and the OMG, learning about the diverse programs and services available. This event reflects a commitment to building stronger ties and fostering a sense of community and inclusivity. Representatives are enthusiastic about the prospect of working with Swan Hills and look forward to meeting members of the community and providing valuable information and support.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette