The Métis Nation of Alberta has a history of turning community programs into institutional development. In February 2010, the organization announced another historic decision to develop and establish an education, training and research institute under an umbrella organization to be called the Rupertsland Institute – Métis Centre of Excellence. The Rupertsland Institute has since been incorporated as a non-profit (Section 9) company under the Alberta Companies Act, and is governed by a professional Board of Governors comprised of representatives from the Métis business community, the University of Alberta, other academia, industry, and the MNA Provincial Council.
An Introduction to Rupertsland Institute
Rupertsland Institute Divisions:
1. Research and Professional Development
The objective of the Research and Professional Development division is to work in partnership with the University of Alberta to conduct labour market research and other professional studies to help build service delivery capacity at Rupertsland Institute. A second objective is to support relevant studies that will produce a better understanding of Métis culture and identity, the social, economic and cultural conditions of the Métis people, and the measures that will enhance their individual and collective well-being within Canadian society. This division is also responsible for the Métis Training to Employment annual conference as well as bi-annual capacity training sessions that focus on capacity building and professional development activities for service delivery staff.
The Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research
The Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research (RCMR) was established in May 2011 as an Academic Centre under the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. The RCMR is a four-way partnership between the University of Alberta, Advanced Education and Technology, the MNA and Rupertsland Institute. It operates under a 10 member Research Council chaired by the University of Alberta’s Dean of Native Studies and includes representation from the MNA and Rupertsland Institute.
Rupertsland Institute has a full mandate on education from the MNA that now includes the support of Metis students starting in kindergarten and extending to those in post-secondary studies. Objectives identified under the Education division are to engage the Province of Alberta, the Government of Canada, learning institutions, industry and the Métis community in order to promote partnerships that enhance education, skills development, and employment opportunities for Métis people. In addition, the Education division administers the nine post-secondary endowments created under the umbrella of the “Metis Education Foundation” with a mandate to further support Metis learners engaged in advanced learning through the creation of new endowments.
Métis Endowment Awards
The Métis Nation of Alberta and Rupertsland Institute, through contributions to the Métis Education Foundation (MEF), have now established Métis Scholar Awards at nine post-secondary institutions across Alberta. These partnerships have been created at post-secondary institutions capable of matching the MEF investments and together total approximately $14 million in endowment investments. As only the interest is disbursed from the principal investments, the endowments have been created to support Métis students in perpetuity. These efforts represent a substantial investment in building a “skilled Métis labour force.”
3. Training and Employment
The Métis Training to Employment Program is the most well-known Service Delivery Arm of Rupertsland Institute. Its objectives are to identify and promote actions that improve education, skills levels and employment opportunities for Métis people, and to manage and deliver programs that enable Métis individuals to pursue education, enhance their skill level, and to find productive and well-paying occupations and employment.
Aboriginal Skills Employment and Training Strategy (ASETS)
Following the MNA Provincial Council motion to create the Rupertsland Institute, direction was sought, and approval was given from Human Resources Development Canada to move the responsibility of training from the MNA stewardship to the Rupertsland Institute. The Rupertsland Institute became the new signatory to the ASETS Agreement totalling more than $68 million dollars over four and one-half years effective October 2010.