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A long-standing partnership to provide quality education, training and research to the Métis people of Alberta is being renewed and celebrated by the University of Alberta, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and the Rupertsland Institute (RLI).

The memorandum of understanding honours the ongoing relationship between the MNA, RLI and the U of A while commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research (RCMR), which was established May 31, 2011, at the U of A as the research arm for the RLI and the MNA, and as Canada’s first Métis-specific academic research centre.

The new agreement will advance several post-secondary goals, including continuing to conduct research specific to Métis concerns through the RCMR, and supporting Métis students in attaining post-secondary education. The agreement also speaks to the Rupertsland Institute’s goal of becoming a post-secondary institution offering courses and certification, to result in credit transfer agreements with the U of A.

The MOU will also foster goals to increase the number of Métis academics, fellowships and employees at all levels of the U of A through partnership agreements between the university and RLI, as well as Métis course development.

“In our capacity as a public university, we are honoured to walk alongside the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Rupertsland Institute as they exercise their right to self-determination,” said Florence Glanfield, vice-provost (Indigenous programming and research) for the U of A. “The collaboration in this agreement enhances space for Métis narratives across teaching, learning and research – narratives that have been silenced by exclusion and colonial practices.”

“For generations, our ancestors ran buffalo hunts across the Métis Homeland. The buffalo was a means to security and prosperity, the key to the livelihood of the Métis,” said MNA president Audrey Poitras.

“Today, education is our buffalo. Education of our Métis citizens is the key to success, the key to true reconciliation and continued education for all on our story and our history. The MNA and RLI’s partnership with the U of A has enhanced the post-secondary capacity for Métis students, academics and research so we can continue making space for Métis experiences, past and present. This renewed agreement allows us to continue this important work with our partners and expand understanding of the Métis experience—past, present and future,” Poitras said.

“The Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research and the new agreement can be models for how post-secondary institutions can enter into respectful relationships with nations of Indigenous peoples,” said U of A president Bill Flanagan. “These relationships are designed to advance the educational aspirations of Indigenous peoples, as well as further their work to define and conduct the research that is important to their nationhoods, communities and lands.”

The agreement also enables the RCMR to continue taking on high-calibre research projects and creating events that build knowledge about Métis peoples among both Métis and non-Métis audiences. Supported in this next phase by funding from RLI and the MNA, the RCMR serves as an expansive academic research program specifically designed for Métis concerns, including historical research and Métis rights; research and analysis capacity on general policy areas such as health, labour, land use and resources; and contemporary Métis issues.

“The new MOU not only strengthens the relationship that already exists between the MNA/RLI and the University of Alberta, as well, it ensures the sustainability of the RCMR as a leading-edge research unit engaged on a research journey that deconstructs old research frameworks and supports the co-creation of knowledge with the Métis nation,” said Nathalie Kermoal, director of the RCMR and associate dean (academic) with the U of A’s Faculty of Native Studies.

Since its inception, the RCMR has focused on forging local, provincial and national connections with Métis communities, building research capacity to advance Métis-specific research, and training and employing student researchers.

Over the past 10 years the RCMR has awarded grants to help Métis scholars conduct their research, created and expanded its network of research affiliates and employed research students to work on projects for the RCMR, RLI and the MNA.

The RCMR has also co-ordinated and hosted two major conferences on the landmark Daniels case and on Métis scrip that were livestreamed, recorded and publicly archived; hosted talks showcasing Métis research, art, culture and history; collaborated with other university units to host workshops, lectures and exhibits; and produced several publications, with more in production, on topics of Métis education, health, labour, land rights and law.

| By Bev Betkowski

This article was submitted by the University of Alberta’s Folio online magazine. The University of Alberta is a Troy Media Editorial Content Provider Partner.

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