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The Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S) signed a landmark agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) on Wednesday, July 21. The deal vows cooperation on Métis employment in the public sector and other areas of mutual interest.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the Back to Batoche festival, which was an expanded event this year in honour of the 125th anniversary of the Métis resistance at Batoche.

The Métis culture and our people come from a blending of different backgrounds,” said Robert Doucette, president of the MN-S. “So the Métis Nation and I look at this opportunity as one in which we can bring together and blend the strengths and experiences of our organizations. I think Métis communities and the province as a whole stand to benefit.”

CUPE Saskatchewan has been a leader in developing and delivering representative workforce strategies within the public sector workforce. Since 2003, the union has also hosted an annual Back to Batoche canoe trip, paddling as many as 20 canoes more than 70 kilometres over three days and landing at the annual festival in Batoche.

Saskatchewan can stand proud as a nation-wide leader,” said Paul Moist, CUPE National President. “CUPE in Saskatchewan and Métis and First Nations groups in Saskatchewan have consistently stepped up as leaders, addressing employment and equity issues. Groundbreaking partnerships like this one set the bar for communities across the country.”

According to Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan, the provincial divisions of the two organizations were a perfect fit.

Certainly we’ve talked about ways in which we can ensure that Métis people have full access to opportunity when it comes to public sector employment,” said Graham. “But CUPE and the Métis Nation also have a lot of other issues in common, like our mutual desire to address access to safe, clean water; our interest in education and training opportunities; and our members’ common call for us to be vocal on environmental issues.”