The Fort McKay Métis have finalized a deal to buy their land from the provincial government.
On Tuesday, the $1.6 million transaction was finalized – marking the first Métis community across Canada to buy its land from any province.
President Ron Quintal tells Mix News this moment has been a long time coming.
“When the government received the check and it was a done deal, that was probably the happiest moments of my entire political career, nothing compares to what I’ve been able to achieve with this land transaction.”
Quintal started working on the deal 13 years ago.
The progress started back in 2007 when they negotiated a lease for the land. Three years later, they were able to purchase two lots, worth 120 acres, from the provincial government.
Roughly eight years after that, their loan was officially approved by a bank to purchase the remaining 372 acres – totaling just under 500 acres.
“Because of the fact, we were able to set up a trust fund – we were able to build up the power we needed and, in our mind, partner with Alberta Treasury Branch to be able to finance the purchase of the land,” added Quintal.
“We’re putting out a call to our people, our McKay Métis members – come home because we have our land and we want to be able to make sure that we can create a sustainable life for all our people.”
Now that the deal is done, the group is looking at moving forward with all their ideas for developing the area.
Quintal says the biggest thing the purchase will give them is a sense of freedom.
“We want to have our own autonomy, we want to move towards self-government. We have land, we have houses, we have programs and services, we own companies, we administer that all out of our community so we’re already self-governing.”
He adds they’re looking to set up a date with the federal government to start a modern-day treaty.
Quintal hopes to be the inspiration for other Métis groups to look into buying their land.