An estimated 4,000 people voted unanimously in favour of a treaty between the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Crown at an assembly on Saturday.
Voting took place at an assembly at Assiniboia Downs, online and from eight satellite locations, Will Goodon, the Manitoba Métis Federation housing minister, told CBC News on Sunday.
“It was just an amazing day yesterday, with so many people coming together focused on making right what was done wrong to our people over 150 years ago,” he said.
The Métis are the only Indigenous nation to negotiate a province into Confederation through the Manitoba Act in 1870, Goodon said, but promises for economic opportunities and land for the Métis were not kept after the act’s passing.
“We were supposed to get 1.4 million acres of land for our children, we were supposed to get the river lots for our families, our languages and schools,” said Goodon.
“We had no place to live. We were pushed out through the diaspora. We were living on road allowances.”
The new treaty covers education, housing, health, child care, as well as harvesting and self-government rights, said Goodon. The treaty is special since it is between Red River Métis citizens and the Crown, he said.
David Chartrand, president of the MMF, said the treaty is 153 years in the making and shows the persistence of the Métis.
“We waited a long time. We’ve paid a great price for standing up for our history, our culture and rights,” he told CBC News at the assembly on Saturday.
He said it was probably the largest gathering of MMF citizens ever seen.
“Without doubt, [Louis] Riel is smiling upon us.”
The treaty builds upon a self-governance agreement the MMF made with Canada two years ago, said Goodon. The prime minister or minister of Indigenous Relations will be in Manitoba in September to sign the treaty.
The treaty recognizes the MMF’s ability to make and enforce their own laws, he said.
“Today, our citizens are finally going to be able to move forward.”