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On June 27, 2019, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Government of Canada signed a historic Métis self-government agreement. In this agreement, Canada recognized what the Métis have always known - that the Métis communities represented by the MNO have an inherent and constitutionally protected right to self-determination and self-government. The agreement establishes for the first time a path to the full and formal recognition of a Métis government in Ontario. While the hard work is far from over, this agreement represents a momentous step forward. Canada has now recognized that the MNO represents its Métis citizens and communities in their pursuit of self-government, and have agreed on a path forward. This agreement recognizes the MNO as an Indigenous government and locks in a mandate to negotiate Métis self-government based on this inherent right. To learn more about this historic agreement and the path it took to get there click here
In 2018 the MNO and the Government of Ontario conduct an independent review of the MNO Harvester’s Card system. The review concludes that the MNO has a credible system for identifying Métis rights-holders and both parties sign the Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting which relies on the MNO’s Harvester’s Card system.
In 2017 an extensive and rigorous review of historical reports is completed. Out of this review the MNO and the Government of Ontario announce six historic Métis communities in Ontario in addition to the one recognized by the Supreme Court in Powley. On December 11, 2017 the MNO signs the MNO-Canada-Ontario Framework Agreement on Advancing Reconciliation with the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario which sets out a negotiations process for a core self-government agreement. Click here for a copy of the Agreement
On June 14, 2016 Thomas Isaac published his Report. The Report was officially titled "A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: Report of the Minister’s Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Metis Federation Decision", but is commonly referred to as the Isaac Report. The Report made recommendations on the need for negotiation processes with Métis on rights, outstanding claims, and grievances. In line with this the MNO establishes a negotiations committee that is tasked with representing Métis citizens during meetings with the Government of Canada to advance priorities including self-government. Click here for a copy of the Report
Specifically, Mr. Isaac's Report found that “[a]n example of a Métis government being duly authorized by its members can be found in how the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was established and functions.” Mr. Isaac goes on to note the MNO’s centralized Registry as a means to identify Section 35 Rights-Holders, the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement, the MNO’s “comprehensive Métis hunting policy,” the passage of the MNO Secretariat Act by the Ontario legislature, and the MNO-Canada Consultation Agreement, as positive examples of what can be achieved when Métis and other levels of government work together. Click here for the full story
The release of the Isaac Report received media attention and an official acknowledgement from the Government of Canada. You can read more about that here: CBC News Coverage: 'Canada should have 'nation-to-nation' relationship with Métis, report says and here Government of Canada News Release: Minister Bennett Welcomes Thomas Isaac Report on Reconciliation with Métis
In 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada released the Daniels decision declaring that Métis are included as “Indians” within section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. This means that Canada can no longer justify the exclusion of Métis from federal negotiations on the basis that it lacks jurisdiction.
Appointment of Ministerial Special Representative on Métis Rights - June 2015
President Lipinski with Minister Valcour
In June of 2015, the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs appointed Mr. Tom Isaac as his independent Special Representative to engage with the MNO as well as other Métis Nation governments on issues related to the section 35 rights of our communities and nation. Mr. Isaac is a well regarded lawyer and expert in Indigenous law and has previously written on Métis legal issues.
This appointment is an important breakthrough for the Métis Nation. It is the result of all of the positive work the MNO has been doing at the local, regional, provincial, and national levels on advancing our rights based agenda. While we still have more work to do before we get to a formal Métis claims process to begin to deal with the rights, interests, and claims of Ontario Métis communities, this is a step in the right direction. Click here for the full story
The Eyford Report
In April of 2015 Doug Eyford released his Report. President Lipinski applauded the Report as it recommended that Canada create a “reconciliation process” to address Métis rights and outstanding claims. Click here for a copy of the report
Specifically, Mr. Eyford made the following two Métis-specific recommendations:
1. Canada should develop a reconciliation process to support the exercise of Métis section 35(1) rights and to reconcile their interests.
2. Canada should establish a framework for negotiations with the Manitoba Metis Federation to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Manitoba Metis Federation v. Canada.
It is well past the time to deal with Métis rights in relation to land and resources as well as address outstanding Métis claims outside of the courts. Currently, the Métis have no other place to go, and Mr. Eyford rightfully recognized this cannot continue. Click here for the full story
President Lipinski with Benoit Pelletie
In March of 2015, MNO President Gary Lipinski met with Benoit Pelletier, a Federal Government Special Representative in the ongoing review of Canada's current Specific Claims Policy. Mr. Pelletier is a former Minister in the Quebec Government and is currently a professor at the University of Ottawa. Mr. Pelletier's report to the Government of Canada on its Specific Claims Policy was finalized that summer. President Lipinski emphasized that Canada's ongoing exclusion of the Métis from both the specific and comprehensive claims processes was inconsistent with decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada, the rule of law, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Click here for the full story
In 2014 the Federal Government began consultations on the comprehensive and specific claims policies that are designed to address outstanding Crown obligations and land and rights claims of Indigenous peoples. In the past Métis communities have been excluded from these federal policies. Fortunately, progress has been made following a number of Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions over the last decade. From the Powley Case to the Manitoba Métis Federation Case to the Daniels Case, the message from the courts to the Government has been clear: reconciliation in Canada cannot continue to exclude the Métis people and negotiation processes to address Métis rights, interests, and claims are the only way forward. In November of 2014, MNO President Gary Lipinski met with Doug Eyford, a Vancouver based lawyer, who was appointed by the Federal Government to provide an overview and recommendations with respect to Canada’s existing policy for negotiations on Indigenous rights and land claims across Canada. President Lipinski made a strong case to Mr. Eyford concerning Canada’s refusal up to that point to deal with Métis rights, interests, and claims.
In 2003 the Supreme Court of Canada released the landmark Powley decision affirming that the Métis community in Sault Ste. Marie and environs have Métis harvesting rights in their traditional territory protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In 2004 the MNO and the Government of Ontario signed the Harvesting Agreement which relies on the MNO’s Harvester’s Card system. In 2008 the MNO and the Government of Ontario signed a five-year Framework Agreement committing them to jointly pursue reconciliation in a variety of ways.
Updated: April 30, 2020