Calgary marked its long running recognition of Canada’s Métis peoples with a historic first for the province and for the nation.
The start of Métis Week was for the first time a joint ceremony between the City of Calgary and the newly-formed Otipemisiwak Métis Government, which was sworn in after a historic vote which saw the formal transition of self-governance from the Métis Nation of Alberta to the Otipemisiwak Métis Government.
The Métis flag was raised on the courtesy flag pole at the civic plaza in front of City Hall, recognizing the historic role that Métis people have had within the city.
Carmen LeSante, District Captain for Calgary Elbow, Métis District 6, said that the formal recognition by the City of Calgary for the new government was a huge deal for Métis peoples in Alberta.
“It’s the first time since Louis Riel had had set up his provisional governments where we can actually govern ourselves, have our own rules, create our own constitution for our people, and be able to govern our own people and help them through everything that’s going on with our our way of life,” she said.
“It means a lot because we’re now being put on that same playing field as our First Nations, and that we’re given the same respect [from the City of Calgary] that they do for other people of other cities and the surrounding areas.”
Historic election first for Canada
The vote that formed the first elected Otipemisiwak Métis Government, was the largest vote ever held for Indigenous leadership in Canada’s history.
Calgary has two districts, Calgary Nose Hill (5) and Calgary Elbow (6), which represent 4,942 and 3,054 Métis respectfully.
Nelson Anthony Lussier won the election for District 5, and Jason Chernow for District 6 as Citizens’ Representatives. Chernow was appointed to Otipemisiwak Métis Government cabinet the as Secretary of Environment and Climate Change.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that the City was proud to continue the tradition of recognizing Métis Week, and was looking forward to the new Otipemisiwak Métis Government as they work towards having Bill C-53 passed in Parliament.
“The outcome of this advocacy is incredibly significant, and it will have a profound impact on the kinds of relationships that we’re able to build here locally,” she said.
That bill, if passed, would recognize Métis governments as the governing bodies authorized to act on behalf of Métis peoples in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
Mayor Gondek concluded her remarks with the Calgary City Council proclamation of Métis Week and Louis Riel Day on Nov. 16.
For a full list of Métis Week activities across Alberta, see albertametis.com/event/metis-week-2023.