Author Topic: Metis Settlement:  (Read 1261 times)


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Metis Settlement:
« on: September 19, 2008, 02:50:17 PM »

I myself am glad to hear of this. It is a step forward, and I love those smiles!! Please press for pics. Thanks.
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Friday ? September 19 ? 2008
M?tis get $18M boost from gov't
Elise Stolte
The Edmonton Journal

Friday, September 19, 2008

Students at Kikino Elementary School show off their fiddling skills, a traditional part of M?tis culture.
CREDIT: Chris Schwarz, The Journal
Students at Kikino Elementary School show off their fiddling skills, a traditional part of M?tis culture.

KIKINO - On the Kikino M?tis Settlement there are no gang signs spray-painted on the stucco, no coffee cups or sandwich wrappers in the tall grass and no kids wandering about on a weekday -- or if there are, they stay out of sight.

Living two families to a house is normal here. But attendance at the community elementary school is 90 per cent, says Principal Laurie Thompson.

On Thursday, M?tis leaders and Alberta Aboriginal Relations Minister Gene Zwozdesky signed an $18-million interim funding agreement for the eight settlements over the next three years.

"That's not enough," says Thompson, "but at least it's a start, and we celebrate that because that's how far we've come."

Alberta's M?tis are descendants of French, Scottish and Norwegian trappers who intermarried with the Cree. Unlike Status Indians, they pay federal and provincial income taxes, but don't pay property taxes. They hold their land in common.

Alberta's M?tis settlements -- initially there were 12 -- were formed in 1938. Four were later dissolved. In 1990, they won an amendment to the Alberta Act writing their existence into law.

Now the 9,000 members in Alberta have a right to self-government, rights to all renewable resources on their 1.25 million acres of land, and the right to charge royalties on the oil and gas on top of those charged by the province.

In 1960, Leona White was the first Kikino member to graduate from Grade 12.

Ten years later, her brother, Floyd Thompson, was the second. Slowly the numbers edged up to average one each year, then three.

Last year, 13 graduated, which is a record, says Laurie Thompson, who is Floyd's daughter. "But I taught that class (in Grade 6). They were 28."

Life in Kikino is a slow struggle upward. The funding announced Thursday will be used to improve the effectiveness of councils on M?tis settlements and increase long-term sustainability.

It's the first step toward a long-term funding arrangement to replace the 17-year agreement signed in 1990.

Funds can be used for training council members and administrators, setting up a M?tis accountability office and for education, community policing and small business development.

The terms of the agreement came after years of negotiations between the M?tis communities and the province.

The goal is to help communities flourish on their own, says Zwozdesky. "Today is a major step in that direction."

You won't find fancy new administration buildings, community halls or recreation centres in Kikino. Those are still decades old, built of painted brown logs. So is the community- owned general store, where the names of those with overdue videos are simply written on the wall -- Claudia Cardinal still has Bring It On, due back last November.

But just down a paved road, the elementary school is bright and well kept, with smart screens replacing blackboards and surround sound for the hearing impaired in every classroom.

Students who bus to Lac La Biche and make it past Grade 12 get post-secondary tuition paid for up to five years.

The community wants to invest in its non-renewable resources, Thompson says. They took in $300,000 this year from their gravel pit and $700,000 in royalties from oil and gas and put it into their $5-million trust fund.

But even with the money saved and earning interest, they need to start developing renewable resources, he says. "There isn't a quarter section that doesn't have a seismic line or well site on it. We need to find a way to replace that." Already they're starting to harvest jack pine forests. And they're investing in tourism -- a buffalo and elk game farm, a rodeo, a campground and cabin resort on the banks of Whitefish Lake.

The cracks in the system show up in housing. M?tis can't get mortgages to build a houses because they don't own the land. Couples and families apply to get houses when they need one, but waits are often three to five years, said administrator Roger Littlechilds. Two years ago, 75 people from the community of 1,200 applied to get houses, but council decided to pay for renovations instead, Littlechilds said.

In the school, 60 of the 100 students are special needs; many have learning disabilities or behaviour problems.

The school introduced M?tis traditional jig and fiddle classes just over a year ago and the kids with the most behavior problems "are the kids that do best at it," Thompson says.
? The Edmonton Journal 2008

« Last Edit: September 19, 2008, 02:52:18 PM by Adrian »