Metis Nation-Saskatchewan signed a historic self-government agreement with the federal government on Thursday.

The agreement recognizes Metis Nations of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario as Indigenous public governments.

“Self-government to us means we will run our own affairs,” Glen McCallum, the president of Metis Nation-Saskatchewan, told CTV News in Ottawa following the signing ceremony.

“It is real progress for our people."

Because the Indian Act doesn’t include Metis people, Metis organizations have had to create non-profit associations in order to be considered a legal entity that can negotiate with the government.

McCallum said the agreement, which took decades of negotiating, will improve the livelihood for Metis people.

“We’re in capacity to do the work that needs to be done, one example comes to mind – education. There’s always been a gap in post-secondary and now we have the capacity to help our students that have fallen through the cracks. We have the capability to negotiate (education funding) with the government,” McCallum said.

The agreement was signed in a ceremony on Parliament Hill with elders, the three Metis Nations and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

Bennett called the agreements a "fundamental step to advance reconciliation" and predicted they will transform the federal relationship with Metis nations in the three provinces.

– with files from The Canadian Press