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International Metis Aboriginal Governance Conference in Winnipeg

March 11, 2009

Métis Aboriginal Governance: Charting a Path Forward

Winnipeg hosts international conference March 24 to March 26, 2009

WINNIPEG, MB – The first international Métis Aboriginal Governance: Charting a Path Forward conference is attracting renowned scholars, authors, political representatives and community participants to The University of Winnipeg from March 24-26, 2009.

The conference is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required at

Keynote speakers include authors John Raulston Saul and Maria Campbell, David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation and internationally-renowned legal scholar Garth Nettheim from Australia. Featured presenters and panelists include Gerald Cunningham, President of the Alberta Métis Settlements General Council, Paul Chartrand, Director of the Aboriginal Governance Program at UWinnipeg, Jeff Cyr, Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and non-Status Indians, with opening remarks by Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. Visiting scholars from New Zealand and Australia will share their insights and experience in actualizing Indigenous rights and governance. A detailed program is available at

"This conference brings together delegates who share the common goal of building vibrant Métis communities and to ensuring a higher quality of life for the people of the Métis Nation," says the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and non-Status Indians. "To effectively address Métis issues, it takes genuine collaboration and hard work. It is through occasions like this one that partnerships are made and that creative solutions can be found."

"Indigenous peoples are at the heart of the recent world-wide human rights movement which affirms the duties of states to recognize, respect and protect their special rights, as evidenced by the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said Paul Chartrand, Director of the Aboriginal Governance Program at UWinnipeg. "In Canada, federal and provincial governments are undertaking new directions in their relations with Métis people′s representatives. In this context there is a search for unique insights into the intellectual, political, and constitutional foundations upon which good relations with the province of Manitoba′s founding people may be established and maintained. Equally, there is a search for practical avenues to establish workable, legitimate and lasting arrangements that balance the rights and interests of all Canadians within a just vision of Canada. This conference aims to contribute to that search."

"As the democratically elected self-government representative of the Manitoba Métis Community, the Manitoba Métis Federation is pleased to work in partnership and participate in this important academic gathering,'' said President David Chartrand. ''It is fitting that the conference should take place in Winnipeg - the heart of our People's Homeland. It was here that our right of self-determination was established and protected. The Métis Nation has a long tradition of self-governance and we look forward to bringing our experience to the discussion."

"This conference provides a great opportunity to bring experts and leaders together to discuss various models of Métis Governance," said Gerald Cunningham President of the Alberta Métis Settlements General Council "It also provides an opportunity for Settlements, as the only legislated land-based Métis Government in Canada to share our experiences with others."

In 2008 the Métis National Council Protocol Agreement was signed between the Métis National Council and the Government of Canada. The agreement sets in place a process to discuss key issues of concern to the Métis people and Canada. Key legal and policy changes are afoot and opportunities exist to re-imagine the political relationships between governments (federal, provincial) and Métis organizations and political actors to develop new or enhanced vehicles for reconciling Métis self-government and Métis Aboriginal rights, and to develop creative options to positively reconcile the Métis people with Canada. The idea of this conference is to draw out creative answers to complex issues and to bring new thinking to bear on ongoing processes and issues.

Keynote speakers
John Ralston Saul, philosopher and author of A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada
Tuesday, March 24, 7:00 pm, Convocation Hall
Marie Campbell, Métis scholar and author and UWinnipeg′s 2009 Carol Shields Writer-in-Residence
Wednesday, March 25, 9:30 am, Convocation Hall
Garth Nettheim, on `Indigenous Rights & Governance in Australia′ University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Thursday, March 26, 9:00 am, Convocation Hall

David Chartrand, President Manitoba Métis Federation
Thursday, March 26, 4:00 pm, Convocation Hall

Conference partners: Métis Settlements General Council, Aboriginal Governance Program at The University of Winnipeg, Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and non-Status Indians, Manitoba Métis Federation.

For more information contact:
Diane Poulin
Communications Officer
University of Winnipeg
Phone: 204-988-7135
Cell: 204-293-1167

Frank Coyle
Director of Communications
Manitoba Métis Federation
Phone: 204 586-8474 x374
Cell: 204-232-5737

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