Fishing Lake Métis Settlement occupies a land base of 204,381 acres, approximately 12 miles by 12 miles. Most community facilities and some residences are located in the unincorporated community of Sputinow, but most homes are outside the town site on acreages that support small farms and a rural residential lifestyle.
The eight Métis settlements in Alberta are the only legislated land base for the Métis in Canada. Originally there were 12 settlements, established in 1938 through the provincial Métis Betterment Act. Following an extensive period of advocacy and negotiation for self-government and control over their own land base, the Métis Settlements Act came into force in 1990. This is Our Land.
Métis Settlements Act
The Métis Settlements Act (MSA) provides for the legal transfer of land title to the Métis people. It also establishes the settlement governance structure for local municipal and traditional style self-government: Settlement Councils, General Councils, Métis Settlements Appeal Tribunal and the Ministry. The eight settlement corporations and the Métis Settlements General Council are legal entities under the act.
The Act also includes The Subsurface Resources Co-Management Agreement; the settlements and the province jointly manage oil, gas and other subsurface resources on the settlements.
The Métis General Council holds fee simple title to the 528,000 hectares of all eight settlements. A special form of title, called Métis Title, is held by each settlement’s elected council. Métis title can be transferred to individual settlement members.
Non-settlement members are not permitted to hold Métis title to settlement lands, but they can apply to the Settlement Council for permission to access or lease lands.
A member who holds the Métis title for a parcel can:
- live on the parcel
- Use and make improvements to the land
- Transfer the Métis Title to another member of the settlement or to the Settlement itself
- Give someone else the right to use the land
- Decide who will get their Métis title when they die
Elected councils have the legal powers under the MSA to pass bylaws in different areas, including land use, planning and development, health, waste management, business taxation, and parks and recreation.
Métis Settlements General Council
The General Council consists of five elected councillors from each of the eight settlements. Each settlement gets one vote. These 40 councillors appoint four members as a president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary.
The General Council deals with issues that affect the collective interests of the eight settlements. It has legal authority over land, including timber, oil and gas and harvesting issues arising from hunting, fishing and trapping. It also has authority over membership.
Métis Settlement Appeal Tribunal
The Appeal Tribunal resolves land and membership disputes and also amends right of entry orders and settles compensation disputes for oil and gas activities on settlement lands. It may also be called on to resolve other matters in Métis Settlements General Council Policies and local Settlement by-laws.The Appeal Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body established in 1990, in order to rule on land, membership and other issues. The overriding consideration of the Appeal Tribunal, described in the MTA, is to “exercise its powers with a view to enhancing and preserving Métis culture and identity and further the attainment of self-governance of Métis settlements under the laws of Alberta.”The tribunal
The Appeal Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body established in 1990, in order to rule on land, membership and other issues. The overriding consideration of the Appeal Tribunal, described in the MSA, is to “exercise its powers with a view to enhancing and preserving Métis culture and identity and further the attainment of self-governance of Métis settlements under the laws of Alberta.” The tribunal
The tribunal endeavours to resolve every case in a timely, fair, culturally appropriate and cost-effective manner, providing hearing and mediation services for land, compensation and membership disputes. Decisions of the tribunal may be appealed to the Alberta Court of Appeal. You can find out more about the tribunal and the process for appeal here.
Métis Settlements Ombudsman
Complaints about management or leadership can be taken to the Métis Settlements Ombudsman. The role of the Ombudsman is intended to be remedial or corrective rather than disciplinary. The Ombudsman’s office may conduct investigations and make recommendations to resolve the problem at hand.
Métis Settlements Land Registry
The Métis Settlements Land Registry is operated by the Government of Alberta as a service to the Métis Settlements. The Land Registry records and registers all land interests and land transactions relating to the eight Métis Settlements in a manner legally equivalent to the Alberta Land Titles Office. When a settlement member obtains an interest in settlement land from a Settlement Council or another member, they can have the land recorded and registered with the Land Registry.
The Land Registry also maintains a comprehensive Métis Settlements Members List as required in the Métis Settlements Act.
Land & Membership Department
Phone: 780-943-2202 Ext: 1012