- Programs and Services
On April 30, 2018 the MNO and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry signed a new Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting (the “Framework Agreement”) that advanced the recognition of Métis rights in the province.
The Framework Agreement replaces a previous MNO-MNRF interim agreement from July 2004 as well as consolidates the collaborative work that the MNO and Ontario have undertaken over the last decade with respect to advancing the recognition of Métis rights, including the identification of seven historic Métis communities in August 2017 and the completion of an independent review of the MNO Harvester Card system in January 2018(the “Independent Review”) that confirmed the MNO has a reliable system to identify Métis rights-holders.
The Framework Agreement continues to provide for the MNRF’s recognition of the MNO Harvesting Policy, along with MNO Harvesters Cards that are issued under this policy within the MNO’s identified Harvesting Areas based on the collaborative work outlined above, as well as the parties ongoing participation in the processes and negotiations established under the Framework Agreement. The MNO Harvesting Policy has been in place since 1995 and it is rooted in Métis law and traditions that value conservation, safety and sustainable harvesting.
Unlike the 2004 MNO-MNRF interim agreement, the Framework Agreement does not include a cap on the number of Harvester Cards that can be issued by the MNO. However, the Framework Agreement confirms that MNO citizens who are issued a Harvesters Card must meet the criteria set out in the MNO Harvesting Policy, which is consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada’s criteria for the identification of Métis rights-holders in R. v. Powley. As referenced above, the Independent Review of the MNO Harvesters Card system confirmed that MNO has a reliable system to identify Métis rights-holders.
Significantly, the Framework Agreement commits the MNO to sharing data collected about the Métis harvest with MNRF in order to assist and improve provincial management of natural resources. This unique information and data sharing protocol is the ‘first-of-its-kind’ with an Indigenous community in Ontario and is consistent with the MNO’s longstanding recognition that with rights come responsibilities to protect natural resources for the generations to come.
The Framework Agreement also sets out various collaborative processes and timelines for future discussions and negotiations on issues of priority for the MNO and its harvesters, including arriving at a new, mutually agreeable map identifying the Métis harvesting territories, dealing with Métis harvester mobility between the MNO’s Harvesting Areas as well as incidental cabins. In addition, the Framework Agreement contemplates arriving at a long-term and substantive agreement between the parties.