In February 2021, the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC) voted for self government. This will help the nation to protect its traditions and take sovereign control over their community.
The MNBC have come to the decision to preserve their culture, language and traditions before it’s too late. The MNBC was founded in 1996 and is the first community in B.C. to represent the Metis nation. Over the years they have been dedicated to taking back and protecting their stolen land and suppressed culture.
In the 1630s, when European colonizers such as Samuel de Chammplain invaded Indigenous land, they took it upon themselves to decide to “unite” European and Indigenous people. To achieve this, they created inter-racial relations between the settlers and the Indigenous peoples. The children that resulted from these relations were the first Metis. The word Metis, originates from a French word which means “mixed,” indicating the mixed blood of the children that emanated from the formerly mentioned relations.
The Metis people live throughout Canada, with the majority of their population residing in Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia. The majority of the population in B.C., live in the western part of the Rocky Mountains. The Metis Nations of Alberta live in the Big Lakes County, Smokey Lakes County, and East Prairie. In addition, they live in Thunder Bay in Ontario.
According to an article published in Canadian Lawyer magazine, the Métis people have struggled to negotiate with the Canadian federal and provincial governments for their own stolen land. The Métis people, like the Inuit, are not considered First Nations. This makes it difficult for the Métis community to lay claim to their rights with the federal government because the provincial government is in charge of the Metis people.
With the rights and voices of the Metis community being constantly silenced, the MNBC have taken it upon themselves to take action, and declare self-government. By maintaining self-government, they can protect their culture, lands, identity, and language. Furthermore, they can also write their own rules towards the federal and the provincial governments.
The MNBC’s document for their self governance lays claim to their historic communities, lands that the MNBC says they should legally own. The document also describes a new relationship with the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba.
Optimistically, one day in the future the Metis will be able to reclaim their stolen land.