A new Otipemisiwak Metis Government has been formed and Kaila Mitchell is the newly elected representative for the Jasper House Métis District.
“This is a monumental moment not only for our area but for all Métis people in Alberta,” Mitchell said. “We are embarking on a new chapter in our history, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
That the Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) has been on the road to self governance may have gone unnoticed by many causal media observers, but recently, through the passing of federal Bill C-53, the Métis Self-Government Act, registered Métis citizens in Alberta now have the autonomy to organize as their own government.
Called the Otipemisiwak Métis Government, the new assembly has 22 districts across the province, each representing approximately 1,000 Métis citizens each.
Jasper House Métis District includes Edson, Grande Cache, Hinton and Jasper, plus those communities’ surrounding rural areas. Mitchell grew up in the community of Miller’s Lake, which is near the hamlet of Marlboro, Alberta.
Mitchell said her recent experience working in the provincial legislature as a ministerial assistant, plus a stint in West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long’s constituency office, gave her the confidence to pursue the role of citizen’s representative for her fellow Métis in the Otipemisiwak Métis Government.
“I’ve always been a proud Métis person,” said Mitchell, who is in her late 20s. “Once I learned what a citizen’s representative was, I thought I could contribute.”
Mitchell was running against Terry Rudyk, a long-time organizer with the MNA. Rudyk, who lives in Yellowhead County, where she hunts and harvests medicine from the land, said self-governance is an important step for Métis citizens.
“Now with 22 smaller districts, things will be more local,” she said. “We’ll be able to bring programs and services to our districts.”
Mitchell said she is looking forward to listening to the ideas that her fellow Métis citizens have for how the Otipemisiwak Métis Government can best serve the public. During the campaign, constituents told her there was a need for better children’s services, addictions supports, affordable housing and sustainable harvesting.
“My vision is to have our citizen representatives accountable and listening to what’s important,” she said.
Her first goal is to ensure the Jasper House citizen registry is up to date.
The Otipemisiwak Métis Government is now one of about 25 Indigenous nations with self-government agreements, or modern treaties, in place in Canada. The MNA’s outgoing president, Audrey Poitras, said the new constitution, which was ratified last year, was 100 years in the making.
“I see the constitution as part of Louis Riel’s legacy,” Poitras has said.
The Otipemisiwak Métis Government’s newly elected president is Andrea Sandmaier, from Cold Lake.
Sandmaier, who was endorsed by Poitras, garnered 5,693 votes to her opponent Joseph Pimlott’s 2,131.
Citizens Representatives are elected for four-year terms.
Bob Covey // email@example.com