Another step towards reconciliation is being taken by the municipality.
That’s according to Ron Quintal, President of the McKay Métis, who spoke to mayor and council Tuesday night – gaining support for Alberta’s first ever Métis consultation policy.
If approved by the provincial government, this will allow these communities a chance to discuss future industrial projects slated for traditional lands without the need to appeal.
More importantly, Quintal tells Mix News this would eliminate the need to litigate.
“That’s the biggest issue at hand. Litigation is very expensive and litigation is taking money away from our ability to deliver services and programs to our members.
Simply put, Quintal says litigation is an ‘injustice’ to the communities.
He notes the policy will also avoid the need to fight for every future project.
“We want to be able to avoid any litigation, we want to be able to come to some type of an agreement and what a consultation policy will do is build that bridge to allow the Métis communities to have the conversation that is needed to happen to be able to mitigate that proponent so their project can go ahead.”
Mayor Don Scott will now write a letter to Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, showing their support for the policy.
Quintal adds the municipality along with the six Métis groups in the RMWB – McKay, McMurray, Conklin, Janvier-Chard, Willow Lake, and Fort Chipewyan, are taking the first step across Alberta to make sure Indigenous voices are heard on future projects.
As part of the consultation policy presentation, Scott will also write another letter, this time to the Ministry of Seniors and Housing, looking for funding for affordable housing in the rural communities.
The provincial government is allocating $120 million for better Indigenous housing across the province and the letter of support would be to start a grant application process for the funds.
Quintal says in hamlets across the RMWB, the housing situation is an ‘epidemic.’
“We have far too many couch surfers, we have far too many young families who don’t have access to affordable housing and I think it’s something we need to address sooner than later.”
In some circumstances, multiple generations of families are forced to live in the same homes as they don’t have any more options.
Quintal notes this is something he believes all the rural hamlets are interested in.
“It’s important to us that we have those discussions and we are definitely open to having an open discussion with Wood Buffalo Housing on a similar agreement.”
In the short term, a strategy for better investment and building homes is the best solution moving forward for the communities.