MNO & Ontario extend Framework Agreement
On Friday, November 15, just two days shy of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the historic MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Government of Ontario signed an agreement to extend their current Framework Agreement until a new Agreement can be put in place. The signing took place at a special dinner commemorating the 10th anniversary of the landmark R. v. Powley Supreme Court decision, and only two days after a meeting between the MNO leadership and MNO senior staff with the Right Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario and the Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
The meeting with the Premier and the Minister took place on November 12 with Provisional
Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) members President Gary Lipinski, Chair France Picotte, Youth Representative Mitch Case and MNO Chief Operating Officer Doug Wilson traveling to Queen’s Park in Toronto. During the meeting the MNO representatives stressed the success of the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement that was originally signed on November 17, 2008. “MNO communities and people have achieved success after success,” indicated President Lipinski, “in all areas right across the board: from the Métis Voyageur Development Fund; to Memorandums of Understanding with government ministries, universities and colleges; to the renewal of the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy; to the many Duty to Consult and Accommodate engagements across the province, to name only a few items – we have achieved a great deal working together with the Government of Ontario.” President Lipinski stated it was an MNO priority to renew the MNO-Ontario Framework and continue building on the successes already achieved.
The province agreed that as the current Framework Agreement expired on November 17 this year that the current agreement should be extended while a new Framework Agreement continues to be negotiated. MNO and government officials were able to draw up the particulars of the extension agreement quickly and Minister Zimmer was able to announce the Agreement extension during provincial Louis Riel Day ceremonies at Queen’s Park on November 15.
President Lipinski and Minister Zimmer signed the Agreement extension that same evening at the Powley Anniversary event. “This [Agreement] is a true reflection of the positive relationship we have been building with the Ontario government certainly since the signing of the first Framework agreement,” stated President Lipinski. He added, reflecting on the early years of the MNO, when previous Ontario governments were not interested in working with the Métis: “It is such a relief to have government whose priorities line up so much with our priorities. We share a focus on children and youth; to encourage them to be the best they can be, and health and the environment that connects to the work going on with the Green Energy Act. It is rewarding to go and meet with the Minister and the Premier to discuss all successes we are achieving by working together.”
PCMNO Youth Representative Mitch Case and MNO Senator Brenda Powley also signed the agreement as formal witnesses. Mitch’s participation symbolized the bright future of the Métis people that the Framework Agreement will help realize while Senator Powley’s (who was also a signatory on the original 2008 agreement) participation demonstrated the link to the sacrifices and dedication of the MNO’s founders to building the Métis Nation.
The signing of the extended Agreement was followed by another immensely symbolic moment. Jean Teillet, the Powley case Lawyer and grand-niece of Louis Riel, on behalf of the MNO, presented Minister Zimmer with the most recent version of her book, Métis Case Law. Beautifully decorated with a cover by Métis artist, and daughter of past MNO President Tony Belcourt, the book is a massive compendium of all legal cases and precedents related to Métis rights in Canada.
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The extension of the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement will be in force until the two governments negotiate a new Agreement. Negotiations on this Agreement are ongoing and a good result is anticipated in the not too distant future.