'Our people in this province are ready': Métis Nation-Sask., Parks Canada to discuss future of Batoche

·2 min read

Parks Canada and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) have struck a deal to discuss the future of the lands at the Batoche National Historic Site.

MN-S president Glen McCallum and Parks Canada president and CEO Ron Hallman signed terms of reference during a virtual ceremony on Friday, with both parties agreeing to discuss "a full range of options" related to the Batoche National Historic Site's future.

The discussions will take place as part of a framework agreement signed between MN-S and the federal government in 2018.

McCallum said the side table that was established with the government will discuss lands of the Batoche National Historic Site, but other Métis land claims will be discussed with the federal government as well.

"There's a bigger discussion yet to happen. Now we have the capacity to be able to do that," McCallum said.

He said work has been done in terms of research and conducting interviews with elders about the traditional Métis way of life and where they resided through the province, and that work will continue in the future to be discussed at the newly-established side table.

The significance of Batoche being the starting point for these kinds of land discussions was not lost on the president.

The Batoche National Historic Site, about 90 kilometres north of Saskatoon, commemorates the community that was there, Métis river lot land-use patterns and the 1885 conflict between the Métis and the federal government.

He said Louis Riel's last stand in Batoche against the government, before being charged and hanged in Regina, was done in the belief that Métis people were self-determining people who had the right to self-govern themselves.

"It's been a long time coming," McCallum said.

"I'm very happy today with the agreement that we signed and on continuing conversations around land, I so look forward to that and we are ready. Our people in this province are ready, the Métis of this province are ready to be able to do that."

Submitted by MN-S
Submitted by MN-S

Going forward, McCallum said it is now a matter of collecting the research into the Métis footprint in Saskatchewan, like in Cumberland House, Pinehouse Lake, Ile-a-la-Crosse, the Qu'appelle Valley, Regina and Yorkton.

He admitted the nation hadn't been able to focus enough attention to the work, given the pandemic this year, but said the nation had restructured itself in a way to be able to handle the extra resources needed for the discussions with the federal government.