An Okotokian was recently sworn in as a Citizens’ Representative following the Otipemisiwak Métis Government election.
The election was a historic first, being the inaugural election following the adoption of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution in 2022.
It was a major step toward self-governance for the Métis Nation of Alberta, with Otipemisiwak meaning "those that rule themselves."
The new governance model includes 25 elected representatives, including a President, a Youth Representative, a Women’s Representative, and Citizens’ Representatives for 22 districts, with Métis citizens casting their votes in September.
Lisa San Filippo of Okotoks was elected as Citizens’ Representative for Rocky View (District 4).
“They consider it like the donut district, which is really all surrounding Calgary. So, we’ve got down here in Okotoks right down to Longview, and then on the west side, Cochrane, Canmore, Banff, the northside, Airdrie, Chestermere, Strathmore in the east, and even Drumheller,” says San Filippo.
Though the historic land of the Métis differs from Canada’s geographic provincial borders, San Filippo explains the Métis Nation of Alberta’s districts are divided within Alberta’s provincial boundaries.
“The Métis Nation within Alberta resides within the province of Alberta boundaries. With that being said, we are all of the Red River territory, our homeland is the Red River, however, for governance purposes to be set up, we’re within the province of Alberta.”
San Filippo was elected via acclamation, there was originally another candidate for the district.
“I was running against one other person, and partway through I got a phone call from her saying she’d been watching my campaigning and she felt really confident in me in the role, so she formally withdrew. So, I have the position now, it’s a four-year term by acclamation.”
She was sworn in, along with the rest of the elected Citizens Council, on October 17.
“I’m really honoured to serve. Really excited. I plan to meet as many local people as possible to really hear what’s on their minds and what’s most important to them… I’ve heard from a lot of folks already on things such as ‘I want to understand our cultural practices like beading, or caribou tufting, or hunting.’ For others, it’s access to education. Really, my role is to listen to what’s most important and bring that to advocate at provincial council,” she says.
Being an Okotoks resident, San Filippo has been involved in a few of the town's events revolving around Indigenous history and Truth & Reconciliation and looks forward to many more.
"I've been so privileged to work with Mayor Thorn, Desmond, and Jeanette over at the town on their responses to the Truth & Reconciliation Calls to Action. They've been doing incredible work to really help the town go forward in a good way with the First Nations surrounding the town, within the town, the First Nations people. Reconciliation is something that's been on a lot of people's minds like 'What do I do? What can I do?' You may have seen me at some of the town's events surrounding this because it's an area I'm passionate about... What I actually heard from an Elder at Forward Summit last year is, 'The true meaning of reconciliation is "I want to be your friend and I want you to be my friend."' I just love that, and I've really experienced it in our town, especially with the focus on working together in a good way to go forward together."
Andrea Sandmaier was elected President, and Darryl W. Campbell was elected Citizens’ Representative of the Foothills district (District 1), which includes everything south of the Rocky View district.
The Métis Nation of Alberta was established as an official organization in 1928 with the goal of representing Alberta’s Métis population, with the organization holding a not-for-profit status.
The Métis Nations of Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan are now calling for the passing of Bill C-53, which would recognize their respective governance.
If passed, it would open the door to negotiations for self-government treaties for those three Métis Nations and the federal government.
It’s currently being discussed before Parliament.
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