Senate - Introduction
At St. Laurent, the Métis council became a permanent facet of village life. This was simply a natural progression from the hunting councils of earlier times, which were elected only for the duration of the buffalo hunt. Traditionally, captains and leaders were elected to office on the eve of a hunt, and served only until the hunt ended.
The laws that were developed through this practice, known as the laws of the prairie, served only to regulate the hunt, and did not attempt to regulate civil or criminal matters on a permanent basis.
Then, in 1873 the Métis of St. Laurent updated and formalized the laws of the prairie into a written document, known as the Laws of St. Laurent. These laws covered all aspects of Métis life in the district, not just the conduct of people engaged in the hunt. The traditional principles remained unchanged, however. All laws were made by elected representatives of the people. Hunters were governed by hunters. Community members were governed by members of the community who had no special status apart from their proven record of ability and generosity. The only exception to this was the priest who, as part of the Catholic Church, represented forces and ideologies that did not develop and emerge directly form with the Métis community.
The Métis established a written system of enforceable guidelines for both the hunting and the preservation for the remaining buffalo herds. By 1873, the scarcity of buffalo was becoming critical, and the specter of starvation hovered over the people of the North West.
In September 1874, the federal government received a petition from the Métis of Fort Qu'Appelle, asking that steps be taken immediately to preserve the remaining buffalo as food supply for the Aboriginal people. The government in Ottawa, however, exhibited little concern for such matters, and no action was taken on this request.
This government inaction tended to justify the steps taken by the Métis of St. Laurent in creating their own laws for the protection of the buffalo. There were three groups of people on the prairies whose very existence depended upon the buffalo.
The implementation of a Senate should be, in principle, based on the success of the Métis people in the 1700-1800's. The "Buffalo Assembly" and the "Laws of the Prairies" were established by the "community" way of life. These communal commitments ensured the survival of the Métis people during tough times. The basic principles were; no "individual" way of thinking and "that strength was generated from the collective group". These principles were the basis of the historic Métis culture; therefore the present day infrastructure and principles should honor the past.
Each of the seven MNBC Regional Governance Council appoints a highly respected individual to represent their judicial needs on a provincial level. These non-political Senators form the judicial arm of the MNBC.