Attendees at the 49th annual Back to Batoche Days had more to celebrate this year.
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan had some monumental announcements for some of their 80,000 members, including financial support from the federal government for post-secondary students.
Officials said $89 million will be granted directly to Saskatchewan’s Métis students to support tuition, books and living expenses.
Métis Nation-Saskatchewan president Glen McCallum said they hope this will help close the gap between Métis and non-Indigenous students.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
“Building a very strong relationship with the federal government and the province, we’re doing great as far as conversing on the issues that we have, but more importantly [we’re] very focused especially on the education file.”
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan also signed a memorandum of understanding for the students of the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett explained the federal government has agreed to sit down to hear what survivors and their families want as part of reconciliation, instead of tying up the courts.
“You’re able to listen to the survivors about what they need,” she said. “A lot of it is about language and culture — it’s about healing, an apology.”
Although Friday’s announcements were a step forward, McCallum said there’s still work to be done.
“The issues that we talk about [are] economic development, housing, health and education,” he said. “Those are the main four I focus on and working with the province to be able to develop that relationship and more importantly to implement somewhat of a relationship for programming for our people the Métis.”
A first-time home buyers program was also announced, assisting Métis members who qualify with access up to $15,000 to use towards a down payment and up to $2,500 for closing costs with some restrictions.
This program is expected to benefit approximately 230 Métis first-time homebuyers in Saskatchewan.
WATCH: (June 27, 2019) Métis in Canada granted right for self-governance