Yesterday, the Alberta government announced that they will be giving over $372,000 to Métis groups to begin a constitutional challenge on the federal Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.
The funding will come through the Indigenous Litigation Fund, a $10-million vehicle set up by the provincial government in the summer of 2019 to help Indigenous groups to file legal actions in defending the Alberta extraction industries, including oil, methane, and forestry.
This Oil Tanker Moratorium Act prohibits certain actions for oil tankers over 12,500 metric tonnes, such as where they can anchor at port and unload or load, specifically off the west coast of British Columbia.
These 2 Métis communities are located in Alberta, near Fort McMurray.
Fort McKay Métis Community Association and Willow Lake Métis Nation are 2 of the 7 community associations that make up the fledgling Alberta Métis Federation, which was organized just last year, and is separate from the Métis Nation of Alberta.
In contrast, the MNA was formed in 1928 and has represented the interests of Métis people living within Alberta since that time.
The formation of the AMF occurred in February, which just happened to be the same month that one of its community association members—Fort McKay Métis Community Association—was granted “credible assertion for resource development” by the UCP government.
Credible assertion recognizes the harvesting rights and traditional use practices of the land by these Métis, but it also means that industry players must consult with them when resources development may negatively affect those rights.
But one has to wonder what that consultation would look like given that the FMMCA owns Fort McKay Métis Group, an oil and gas sector supply company, which saw $110 million in gross revenue last year.
As well, FMMCA joined Willow Lake Métis Nation and 6 other Indigenous communities only 2 months ago to enter a $40-million partnership with Suncor to collectively buy a 15% stake in the Northern Courier Pipeline .
Not only that, but the CEO of Fort McKay Métis Group, Crystal Young, donated $2000 to the Tany Yao’s campaign during the 2019 provincial election, the third highest donation received in the campaign. Yao ran for the UCP.
Plus, Ron Quintal, the president of FMMCA, donated $1,304.14 to the UCP last year.
In a statement released to the media yesterday, the Métis Nation of Alberta condemned the Alberta government’s financial support of the two Métis community associations, calling the communities “unaccountable, undemocratic and illegitimate”.
Audrey Poitras, president of MNA, claimed in the statement that the community associations “are made up of non-Métis individuals”.