Saskatchewan Metis Society

Darren R. Préfontaine The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan After 1885, in the 1930s, some Métis such as Joe Ross, J. Z. LaRocque, Joseph Major, and Fred DeLaronde, organized Saskatchewan’s Métis through “locals,” a representative structure taken from organized labour. The first Métis political organization in the province was the Saskatchewan Métis Society (SMS), which represented Métis living in southern and central Saskatchewan. In 1941, it received a provincial grant of $10,000, which was used to hire a law firm to demonstrate that the Métis possessed an outstanding “Indian” title to the land. In 1946, the CCF government funded an SMS “reorganization” conference in which it tried to advance its own agenda, only to be stymied by geographical cleavages between northern and southern Métis. From 1946 to 1967, Métis activists worked for the recognition of the Métis’ “Indian” title to the land, control over the Métis Rehabilitation Farms, and better access to health care and education. However, lack of funding and divisions within the community made it difficult to address these issues. In the 1960s, Métis political organizations existed in both the province’s north and south. The Métis Society of Saskatchewan (MSS), which was founded in 1964 and led by Joe Amyotte, represented Métis living in southern and central Saskatchewan; and the Métis Association of Saskatchewan (MAS), led by Malcolm and supported by Jim Brady, represented northern Métis and Non-Status Indians. In 1967, the two organizations merged, keeping MSS as its name. The 1970s and 1980s were key decades in the development of the MN-S. For most of this period, Jim Sinclair led the province’s Métis and Non-Status Indian political movement. There was a great deal of solidarity between the Métis and the Non-Status Indians at the time, which led to the founding in 1975 of the MN-S’s predecessor, the Association of Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan (AMNSIS). Despite radical rhetoric and group action by much of its rank-and-file, who were influenced by the American Indian Movement, the federal and provincial governments began providing AMNSIS with regular funding for program and service delivery. This created a shift in AMNSIS, as it began to focus less on community organization to achieve social justice and more towards executive meetings with government ministers in order to maintain program funding. In 1982, the Constitution Act (S. 35) recognized the Métis as one of three Aboriginal peoples in Canada, along with Indians and Inuit. This recognition reinvigorated Métis nationalism, just as Bill C31 later allowed many NonStatus Indians to re-obtain their “status.” As a result, AMNSIS folded in August 1988, when a divisive referendum by its membership created a Métis-only political body, the new MSS, which in 1993 became the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS).