December 2, 2009 — On December 2nd, Gary Lipinski, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario joined Métis National Council (MNC) representative David Chartrand and the MNC Board of Governors for a presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.
President Lipinski outlined the new era of Métis rights in the province of Ontario resulting from the historic Powley decision. “This new legal reality must change the Crown’s longstanding ’wait-and-see‘ approach to Métis rights,” he said. “Willful blindness or denying the existence of Métis rights is no longer an option if the federal government does not want to see even more Métis litigation and delays in Canada’s economic recovery.”
The President said the MNO’s relationship with the provincial government has improved since Powley, pointing to the agreement, which recognizes Métis harvesting rights and regional rights-bearing Métis communities in the province. This agreement remains the only one of its kind within the Métis Nation.
But, he added, the value of all the work being done by the province and the MNO on capacity building at the community level is diminished because “unfortunately, a key partner – the federal government – has been missing from this collaborative work….while there appears to be some federal progress on the Crown’s duty to consult with First Nations, Métis communities continue to be excluded or they do not have the necessary capacity to effectively participate in consultation and accommodation processes. Both strategic and sustained investment by the federal government is required.”
The President went on to say that access to and participation in economic development is key to Métis citizens and communities reaching their full potential. He concluded his remarks by asking the federal government to establish a Métis Capital Investment Corporation in Ontario similar to the one’s that they provided funding for in Western Canada years ago.
Additional details on the presentation can be found on the MNC website at www.metisnation.ca.