Métis Nation of Ontario Supports Recent Recommendations from Canada’s Special Representative on Comprehensive Claims Policy

Ottawa, ON (April 7, 2015) — Today, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski applauded a recently released report on the renewal of Canada’s comprehensive claims policy, which recommends that Canada create a “reconciliation process” to address Métis rights and outstanding claims. A copy of the report is available at: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

The report, prepared by Doug Eyford, a Vancouver-based lawyer, provides an overview of and recommendations with respect to Canada’s existing policy for negotiations on Aboriginal rights and land claims across Canada. In November 2014, the MNO President met with Mr. Eyford to outline the MNO’s concerns with Canada’s current refusal to deal with Métis rights, interests and claims. The MNO also provided written submissions to Mr. Eyford.

By and large, over the last three decades, this federal policy has excluded Métis, despite repeated Supreme Court of Canada cases recognizing Métis rights and claims such as the Powley case (2003) and the Manitoba Métis Federation case (2013). In arriving at his Métis-specific recommendations, Mr. Eyford wrote,

Despite succeeding more than 30 years ago in their quest for constitutional recognition, the Métis regard Canada as having failed to accept their status as an Aboriginal group with constitutionally protected rights. The 1986 Policy, like its predecessors, is silent on Métis rights, and the Interim Policy does not specifically address their interests either. Any rights recognition obtained by the Métis has been in the courts, and there have been several successes in recent years. … [Métis] want to negotiate settlements of their outstanding claims against the Crown for “broken promises and unfulfilled obligations”. … Canada must do more in its relationship with the Métis to ensure their section 35 rights are appropriately recognized and can be meaningfully exercised.

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.
  1. Canada should establish a framework for negotiations with the Manitoba Métis Federation to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Manitoba Métis Federation v. Canada, 2013 SCC 14.

MNO President Gary Lipinski said, “As the home of the historic Powley case, we welcome Mr. Eyford’s recommendations. 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 recognizes this cannot continue.”

“We are optimistic that Minister Valcourt will listen to the advice of his independent, special representative and begin to work with the MNO on these important issues. Further, with the Supreme Court of Canada set to hear the appeal in Daniels v. Canada in October this year, the federal government will no longer be able to deny its constitutional responsibility to advance these issues,” concluded President Lipinski.

The MNO represents Métis citizens and rights-bearing communities throughout Ontario. From 1993 to 2003, the MNO advanced the Powley case―the first Supreme Court of Canada decision to affirm Métis rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. For more information about the MNO visit www.metisnation.org.

Posted: April 7, 2015