Gary Lipinski, President
Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski hails from Fort Frances, Ontario, where he was born, raised and still currently resides with his wife Dianne, and daughter Rachel. President Lipinski’s Métis roots go deep as his ancestors were part of the group of Métis who negotiated the “half-breed” adhesion to Treaty No. 3. President Lipinski comes from a long line of Métis commercial fishermen and traditional resource users and continues today to practice the Métis traditional way of life: hunting; fishing; and camping with his family and friends.
President Lipinski holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lakehead University, a Bachelor of Education from Queens University and, Honours in Technological Studies from the University of Western Ontario. He started teaching at Fort Frances High School in 1987 and became actively involved in the discussions that eventually led to the creation of the MNO in 1993. In 1994, President Lipinski was elected as a councillor for the MNO Sunset Country Métis Community Council and then shortly afterwards to the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) as the councillor for Region One. As a PCMNO member, President Lipinski was an instrumental part of the leadership team that advanced R. v. Powley – the ground breaking Métis rights litigation initiated in 1993 that would eventually go to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1999, President Lipinski was elected MNO chair and with his ever increasing involvement in the MNO, he left his teaching position to focus his full attention on the pursuit of Métis rights.
President Lipinski was re-elected MNO chair several times, and when in 2003, the Supreme Court in R. v Powley affirmed that Métis are a full-fledged rights-bearing people; he was selected as the MNO’s chief negotiator in talks with the Ontario government to implement the Powley decision. These negotiations resulted in an agreement on Métis harvesting rights between the MNO and the Ontario Ministry for Natural Resources in July 2004. This was the first agreement of its kind in Canada.
Shortly after being elected president in 2008, President Lipinski successfully negotiated the MNO - Ontario Framework Agreement. This agreement represented a notable turning point in Ontario-Métis relations as it recognizes the unique identity, history, culture and rights of Ontario Métis communities, in stark contrast to generations of government policy that denied the very existence of Ontario Métis. The Framework Agreement led to similar agreements with other government ministries, agencies and post-secondary institutions.
Among other highlights of President Lipinski’s tenure, was progress in the area of the Duty of the Crown to Consult and Accommodate. This led to regional protocols being signed that permitted regional rights-bearing Métis communities to be consulted on projects and plans that will impact their collective rights and interests. It also led to agreements with private sector companies such as Detour Gold, Osisko and Union Gas.
Under President Lipinski, the MNO secured funding through the Ontario New Relationship Fund, which allowed the MNO to advance projects on both the provincial and local levels.
In 2011, President Lipinski secured a $30 million commitment from the Ontario government for the Métis Voyageur Development Fund (MVDF). Ontario will provide $3 million a year for ten years to provide Métis entrepreneurs and businesses with financial support.
During President Lipinski’s tenure, the MNO’s profile has increased. As a result in 2010, the Ontario Legislature declared that year “the year of the Métis,” and President Lipinski has been asked to speak at international, national and provincial conferences as well as participate in panels with renowned speakers such as Don Drummond and appear on television programs such as The Agenda with Steve Paikin.
President Lipinski was re-elected with a substantial majority in 2012 and in his new mandate has placed increased emphasis on supporting Métis children and youth to become “all they can be”. This is the reason why in 2014, when the MNO and Ontario signed a renewed Framework Agreement , an increased emphasis was placed providing opportunities for Métis youth.
President Lipinski’s outstanding leadership and achievements have been recognized on several occasions. Most notably he is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and was presented with an Eagle Feather by Bruce Dumont, the President of the Métis Nation British Columbia.
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