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As the sun began to set Thursday evening, Voyageur canoes, carrying dignitaries and Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) leadership, reached the shoreline of Sault Ste. Marie’s Bellevue Park, signalling the start of the MNO’s 26th Annual General Assembly (AGA).
The canoe arrival is a longstanding tradition at the AGA, bringing Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) members, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and other dignitaries to the AGA in true Métis fashion. This year’s Assembly will be held at the Quattro Hotel in Sault Ste. Marie, with scheduled activities and celebrations taking place at Bellevue Park and the Sault Canal.
As the home of landmark Métis rights court case R. v. Powley, the hosting of the 26th AGA in historic Sault Ste. Marie community is deeply significant. Having recently signed a historic Métis Self-government Agreement in June, this truly is a year to celebrate just how far we’ve come since that 2003 victory.
“This is a special place. It’s the place where Steve and Roddy Powley took a stand for Métis rights, not just in Ontario, but for Métis across the country,” said MNO President Margaret Froh. “What an ideal place to come together in celebration; to reflect on all that has been achieved over the last 26 years; to review the accomplishments of this past year; and chart a path forward in our amazing work to advance Métis rights, self government and self-determination.”
The celebratory tone of this year’s AGA was evident in the energy of Thursday evening’s crowd, who gathered in Bellevue Park to greet old friends, enjoy barbeque corn and hot dogs, and sing their hearts out to some classic karaoke.
Among those greeting MNO participants Thursday were PCMNO Region 4 Councilor Ernie Gatien, Historic Sault Ste Marie Community Council President Kim Powley, and North Channel Métis Community Council President Yvonne Jensen, who enthusiastically welcomed citizens to the “Soo” and encouraged them to participate in as many of the agenda items as possible.
The MNO AGA will run from August 22-25. An optional day trip to Drummond Island will also take place on August 26.
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