The MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement
Continues to build a brighter future for Métis young people
On November 17, 2008, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski and the Honourable Brad Duguid, who was then Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, signed the historic MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement. The Framework Agreement established a collaborative relationship that reinforced the commitment of both parties to work together to improve the well-being of Métis children, families and communities while building knowledge and understanding of Métis culture among all Ontarians. Few agreements between a Métis government and another government have proven more valuable to building a brighter future for the Métis people than the Framework Agreement.
The Framework Agreement was timely and necessary as the Métis population in Ontario is increasing dramatically. Métis represent fully one-third of the entire Aboriginal population in Ontario. Statistics Canada 2011 National Household Survey states that 86,020 Ontario residents self-identified as Métis compared to only 73,605 in 2006; an increase of nearly 17 per cent. The Métis population is also young with over 20 per cent being 15 years or younger, suggesting that Métis youth will play an increasingly important part in Ontario’s future.
Since becoming Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs respectively, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne and the Honourable David Zimmer, have continued to cooperate with the MNO in advancing the goals of the Framework Agreement and it has created a number of important advances in the last year.
A key area where the MNO is working hard to ensure that the interests of young Métis are protected concerns efforts to reform the Aboriginal Child Welfare System in Ontario.
In 2012 the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) released a report on Aboriginal Child and Youth Services that entirely missed the Métis component. In response, a resolution was made at the 2011 MNO Annual General Assembly (AGA) to meet with the Minister of Children and Youth Services and to prepare a parallel report that was Métis-specific. The MNO brought the issue to the attention of Minister Eric Hoskins and presented the MNO report. After discussions on the issue, the Ministry considered the Métis analysis along with their previous work.
These deliberations led to the 2013 announcement that the Government of Ontario’s intends to work with Aboriginal partners to develop a multi-year Children and Youth Strategy. Since then the MNO has been one of the government’s partners in developing this strategy and it was highlighted in the recent 2013 Ontario provincial budget.
In addition to the report done on reforming the Aboriginal child welfare system, the MNO has also produced three very important reports to improve educational outcomes for Métis students and Métis content in Ontario curriculum.
In 2010, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities sponsored MNO research on the opportunities and barriers Métis post-secondary learners face in Ontario. As historically there has been very little research conducted on the subject, the MNO report entitled Research on Effective Practices to Support Métis Learners Achievement and Self-Identification Project, was ground breaking because it offers a greater understanding of barriers and opportunities facing Métis students today. Recommendations to improve the system include building partnerships between the MNO, post-secondary institutions, and the Ministry.
For the last two years, the MNO has provided Métis Education Kits to community members, educators and school boards. The wide use of these led to the first review of Métis content in Ontario's thirteen universities faculties of education in a report entitled Our Place in the Circle (Dion 2012). This report is a step towards a better understanding of the needs of Ontario's teachers and classrooms to provide improved strategies in educating students about the Métis.
The MNO has also commissioned a research report entitled Report on Métis Education in Ontario’s K-12 Schools. This pioneering research examines barriers and opportunities for Métis education in Ontario's kindergarten to high school class rooms. The researchers contacted school boards, directors of education, as well as government officials. The findings show several promising practices which address pedagogical, curricular, and staffing needs. Each addresses the importance of awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Métis knowledge, history, learners, families, and communities in Ontario’s schools.
All reports are available online at the MNO website metisnation.org under Education and Training/Education.
The signing of the Framework Agreement has also led to the MNO signing Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and 13 post-secondary institutions. Niagara College is the most recent post-secondary institution to sign a MOU with the MNO. Like all such agreements, it recognizes and addresses the unique needs of Métis and agrees to work in partnership to ensure that programming offered at the college addresses those needs. The MOU with Niagara College is part of a larger relationship building process of bilateral partnerships with post-secondary institutions.
The MNO has worked tirelessly with the Ontario government and other Aboriginal partners to address the issue of violence against Aboriginal women. Many of the women who suffer violence are young and their lives are forever scarred by the experience.
The MNO has participated in five summits on ending violence against Aboriginal women as an active member of the Joint Working Group since its inception in 2010, and is a full signatory to the Framework to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women.
Most recently in September, MNO President Lipinski and MNO Chair France Picotte participated with the Joint Working Group in a meeting with the Minister responsible for women’s issues and Premier Wynne.
The meeting was the first opportunity for the Joint Working Group, which consists of ten provincial ministries, to report on its progress. The MNO commended the Government of Ontario for supporting efforts to reduce the very high rates of violence affecting Métis, First Nations and Inuit women in Ontario and called upon the two lead Ministers to report back to their cabinet colleagues on progress and ongoing challenges articulated in the meeting.
The MNO has also been integrating awareness about the initiative within the MNO and in particular the Women’s Secretariat of the MNO has been heavily involved in this critical issue.
A major aspect of the MNO’s work in the area of violence against women is the new Victim Services Program. The program’s goal is to expand the range and variety of culturally relevant victim services available to Métis women and children in Ontario. The program is a support system to be integrated with main stream victim services programs in order to help understanding of who Métis people are and the underlying issues and histories that surround them.
These are just some of the recent highlights that add to the foundation that has been built through cooperation and collaboration since 2008. More details on some of these programs can be found throughout this report.