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Sask. Métis Nation bringing bison to Batoche

Two days of discussion between Métis citizens and elected officials wrapped up Sunday in the fall session of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) at Prairieland Park.

Despite the excitement around negotiating a modern day treaty, vice president Michelle LeClair says much of the buzz was around Friday's agreement with Parks Canada to establish a herd of 24 bison on the Batoche festival grounds.

“That was huge,” she said. “And I think bringing the buffalo back to the land and being able to practise cultural teachings, all those sorts of things, is big.”

The bison herd would initially live on the festival grounds before relocating to historic Batoche lands recently repatriated by the MN-S.

One of the major topics of discussion on Sunday was the unanimous decision to reject the provincial government’s Saskatchewan First Act.

The MN-S says the act ignores inherent rights of Métis citizens to be consulted with constitutional change that affects their communities.

“This is a first step, sending a strong message to the province that this document is unconstitutional in every way,” she said.

While the discussion around the Saskatchewan First Act is more serious, LeClair says there's a lot to be excited about looking ahead.

“The opportunity to practice some reconciliation within our own cabinets, and within and around our own tables, that's been really good to see,” LeClair told CTV News. “[It shows] that people are energized; that they're supportive; that they're excited about the future.”

One of those bright lights is president of the provincial youth council, Autumn Laing-LaRose, who says it's never too early to get involved.

“The age category is 16 to 29 but even if you're younger than 16, there's no bad time to start,” she said. “Even at this legislative assembly, we have a 17-year-old who's in high school representing us at this level of government.”

Laing-LaRose says she has her hands full as soon as the legislative assembly wraps up.

“Right after the assembly, it’s going to be building that provincial selections committee for the youth council, and right now having discussions on using potentially the elders council,” she said.

“I think that would be a really great overlap.”

She also has plans for a youth conference to gather young people from around the province to discuss issues.

The next MN-S legislative assembly will convene in the spring.

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