There were several notable guests at the annual general assembly of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, held last week in Hay River.
A territorial cabinet minister and three other MLAs made appearances at the assembly.
“We haven’t had anybody show up to our assembly from the Legislative Assembly in the last four years,” said Garry Bailey, president of the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.
This year, Education, Culture and Employment Minister R.J. Simpson showed up, along with Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos, Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn and Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson.
Bailey noted the people at the annual assembly were excited that the territorial representatives could attend and hear their concerns.
“Our people let them know what was going on in the communities,” he said. “It was very good.”
Bailey said he is looking forward to working with the territorial government on various issues.
While Premier Caroline Cochrane could not make the annual assembly, Bailey is pleased she has taken on the role of minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs in the new government.
“I think it’s a very good sign,” he said.
About 100 people gathered for the Nov. 26-29 annual assembly from the Metis councils in Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Resolution.
No elections were held this year.
Bailey said the number one issue for the Metis Nation continues to be settling its land claim.
Negotiations stopped during the recent federal election, he noted. “But we’re getting back at it in December. We’re off to Edmonton to get back at it.”
The annual assembly also discussed 13 resolutions.
One of the notable resolutions is a call for government to ban hunting with drones.
“We don’t want hunting with drones,” Bailey said.
Another resolution called for recognition of harvesting rights in Alberta.
“The big one for us is cabin taxation, of course,” said Bailey. “We’ve been fighting that for five or six years now.”
The president said it was a good annual assembly with some new people and new ideas.
This year, the Metis councils in two communities were represented by new presidents – Allan Heron from Fort Smith and Lloyd Cardinal from Fort Resolution.
“Lots of good things are happening,” said Bailey. “And I think we’ve got a very good group that will be supporting us and moving us forward over the next few years.”