The Self-Government Agreement
On June 27, 2019, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Government of Canada (Canada) signed the MNO-Canada Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (the “Self-Government Agreement”).
The signing of the Self-Government Agreement was an historic victory for Métis citizens and communities represented by the MNO. In the Self-Government Agreement, Canada recognizes — for the first time in history—that the Métis communities represented by the MNO hold the inherent right to self-government and self-determination.
While the hard work is far from over, this agreement represents a momentous step forward. The MNO has been working towards the recognition of Métis rights and self-government in Ontario for the last 25 years. Canada has now recognized that the MNO represents its Métis citizens and communities in their pursuit of self-government.
The Self-Government Agreement also provides a clear path for the MNO to transform into a recognized public Indigenous government. After this transition, the new Métis Government will have recognized law-making powers in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal operations. The Self-Government Agreement “locked in” these steps, so they cannot be swept away by changing political winds or circumstances. In this way, the Self-Government Agreement “sets the table” for the next steps that the MNO will take to implement the agreement.
Frequently Asked Questions
As of the signing of the Self-Government Agreement, Canada—for the first time—recognized that the Métis communities represented by the MNO hold the inherent right to self- government, and that the MNO is authorized to implement that right on behalf of these communities. This kind of immediate recognition is unique among self-government agreements that Canada has negotiated with Indigenous nations. It is a momentous step forward for the MNO. The MNO has been advocating for this recognition since its creation 26 years ago, as did Métis throughout Ontario long before MNO was established.
The Self-Government Agreement also provides a clear path for the MNO to transform into a recognized public Indigenous government. After this transition, the new Métis Government will have law-making powers in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal operations. Through the Self-Government Agreement, these steps are “locked in” and cannot be swept away by changing political winds or circumstances.
This is the first time that a self-government agreement has been signed with a Métis government in Canada.
- Development and ratification of a constitution through a province-wide referendum;
- Negotiation of fiscal and intergovernmental implementation agreements;
- Development of a transition plan; and
- Adoption of federal implementation legislation.
The MNO is beginning to plan an extensive, province wide consultation, engagement, and education on the Self-Government Agreement and the development of a constitution for the future Métis Government. The constitution will be the foundation for the new Métis Government. In order for the future Métis Government to be authentic and accountable, its constitution must reflect the values, principles, and voices of the MNO’s citizens and communities. This constitution is entirely in our hands to develop. All MNO citizens and communities throughout Ontario can be a part of this process as well there will be opportunities for future MNO citizens to be informed and provide input.
To ensure that every community and citizen has a meaningful opportunity be to heard in this process, the MNO is working with the MNO’s regional and community-level leadership to ensure that the consultation process will responsive to specific circumstances and concerns of all MNO communities and constituencies. In addition, MNO is developing materials and processes that can ensure citizen can be reached and provide input through a variety of methods. More information will be available on the consultation and engagement process in the coming months.
Not only will the MNO be consulting with communities and citizens, the Electors will have the opportunity to vote on the Self-Government Agreement and the constitution in a ratification process. Electors are MNO citizens whose files meet the MNO’s current requirements for citizenship as set out in the MNO Bylaws and MNO Registry Policy.
- Development and ratification of a Métis Government Constitution through a province-wide referendum;
- Canada and the MNO negotiate a fiscal agreement, intergovernmental relations agreement, and transition plan;
- MNO develops and adopts core laws in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal government structure/operations; and
- Canada passes federal implementation legislation.
The Self-Government Agreement is about recognition of the inherent right of self-government of the Métis communities that the MNO represents and providing a path forward to become a recognized Métis Government on that basis.
The Self-Government Agreement does not extinguish, limit, or modify any Métis rights whatsoever. Nor does it settle any Métis claims, or limit the ability to settle those claims in the future.
The Self-Government Agreement recognizes the future Métis Government’s law-making power related to certain “core” areas: citizenship, leadership selection, and internal governance. The Self-Government Agreement also provides for further negotiations that could enable the Métis Government to assume jurisdiction over a long list of matters affecting our citizens and communities, including rights, land, and social welfare. It will be for the Métis Government to decide what areas to pursue and when.
All MNO citizens can participate in the consultations on the Métis Government constitution, and all Electors—including those who live in southern Ontario—will be able to vote in the ratification process for the constitution and the Self-Government Agreement.
The MNO has committed that Métis Government Citizens living outside of the traditional territories of regional rights-bearing Métis communities will be able to meaningfully participate within the new Métis Government and be represented within it, as well as to access programs and services, and participate in and celebrate their Métis culture. The constitution-building process will also address how Citizens living in southern Ontario be able to participate within decisions related to their rights and claims, which are located within their traditional territories in other parts of the province.
The Self-Government Agreement provides that all Electors will become automatic Citizens of the new Métis Government on the Self-Government Implementation Date. This is because Electors are citizens of the MNO who have been verified as meeting all of the MNO’s current citizenship criteria. MNO citizens who are not Electors due to missing or incomplete documentation, will have to apply through the Métis Government’s new registration process and meet those requirements in order to obtain citizenship in the Métis Government.
Nothing happens to the MNO Harvesting Policy as a result of the Self-Government Agreement. The MNO negotiates with the provincial government on harvesting issues. The Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting that the MNO has in place with Ontario is not affected by the Self-Government Agreement.
Canada signed agreements similar to the Self-Government Agreement with the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation of Alberta on July 27, 2019. In July 2021, the Manitoba Métis Federation also signed a Self-Government agreement with Canada. The MNO is the only representative of Métis in Ontario with which Canada has signed a Self-Government Agreement.
Métis lawyer Jason Madden (Pape, Salter, Teillet LLP) provides background and context to several parts of the Self-Government Agreement in these audio explainers:
Chapter 1: Definitions and Interpretation
Chapter 2: Purpose
Chapter 3: Federal Recognition
Chapter 4: Federal Recognition Legislation
Chapter 5: Requirements
Chapter 6: Constitution
Chapter 7: Legal Status and Capacity
Chapter 8: Role and Jurisdiction of the Métis Government
Chapter 23: Ratification of Agreement and Constitution by the Electors
Chapter 25: Interpretation and Implementation of Agreement
Chapter 27: Legal Effect of this Agreement
- Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA)
- MNO-Canada-Ontario Framework Agreement for Advancing Reconciliation
- MNO-Canada MOU on Advancing Reconciliation
- Frequently Asked Questions about the MNO MGRSA
- MNO Timeline: Pre-Confederation to Self-Government
- Métis Government recognition in Ontario at Last: MGRSA (Backgrounder)
Other Self-Government Links
- MNO achieves federal recognition of its Self-Government (Jun 27, 2019)
- Video from MGRSA Signing Ceremony (Jun 27, 2019)
- MNO Rights and Self-Government Commission – Self-Government booklet (2017)
- FAQs about the MNO, MNA and MNS Tri-Council meetings
- First-Ever National Conference on Métis Self-Government concludes with a commitment to progress
- Video from the 2020 Otipemsiwak Conference
- Unity Through Negotiation: MNO Youth take part in Self-Government Simulation