A groundbreaking day for Métis in Ontario. For the first time ever, a Minister of the Ontario government rose in the House to greet the Legislative Assembly in the Michif language.

l to r: MNO Secretary-Treasurer Tim Pile, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Chris Bentley, MNO President Gary Lipinski and MNO Vice-Chair Sharon McBride
Toronto, ON – April 20, 2010 — Monday was a groundbreaking day for Métis in Ontario. For the first time ever, a Minister of the Ontario government rose in the House to greet the Legislative Assembly in the Michif language.

After this Michif “hello and welcome,” Chris Bentley, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs spoke in support of a motion introduced earlier to have the Province of Ontario join the federal government in recognizing 2010 as the Year of the Métis Nation.

The motion, which was introduced after the unanimous consent of the Legislative Assembly was obtained, called on the Ontario Legislature to commemorate 2010 as the “Year of the Métis” and asked the Ontario Legislature to recognize and honour the distinct culture, identity and heritage of the Métis people in the province as well as the historic and ongoing contributions of the Métis in Ontario.

MNO President Gary Lipinski, who was joined at Queen’s Park by MNO Vice-Chair Sharon McBride and MNO Secretary Treasurer Tim Pile, said, “The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is proud of the historic and ongoing contributions of the Métis people to Ontario and Canada. As one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, the Métis Nation has faced many obstacles and challenges over the generations to protect our unique language, culture, and way of life, but our people have always persevered.”

In his remarks, Minister Bentley said, “It is appropriate for us to honour the Métis this year, for it was 125 years ago that the Northwest Rebellion ended at Batoche in Saskatchewan.” He added, “The Métis rallied behind Louis Riel, a Métis who had helped bring the province of Manitoba into being in a fight for the land they loved. Though they were denied the land they had settled by the Red River, they survived and prospered. Though governments refused to recognize them and, again, pushed them from their community at Batoche, they survived. The Métis are a strong people. Their strength helped build Canada and this province.”

Liberal MPP Bob Chirarelli, speaking in support of the motion recognized the Métis Nation of Ontario, saying it is today “a vibrant, energetic, responsible, contributing people actively engaged in education and economic development at all levels — a community of peoples who live and work in every sector throughout this province.”

MPP Chirarelli also spoke about the historic Four Point Interim Harvesting Agreement signed between the MNO and Ministry of Natural Resources in July 2004, as one that recognized the Métis Nation of Ontario’s Harvester’s Certificate system. “This historic agreement meant that Métis rights holders hunting for food to feed their families would not be charged unless in violation of safety standards or conservation. We look forward to celebrating with the Métis Nation of Ontario when the long-term agreement on harvesting is signed, “said Chirarelli.

President Lipinski calls the province’s proclamation of 2010 as the “Year of the Métis” in Ontario a demonstration of the progress of the Métis in moving into a new era of recognition, respect and reconciliation in the province we call home. “On behalf of the Métis Nation, I want to thank the Ontario Government for making this proclamation a reality.”

The MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement was signed in November of 2008. That historic event marked the first time the province officially recognized the unique history, identity and rights of Métis communities in Ontario. Monday’s ground breaking Proclamation brings the hope for a collaborative process that would support stronger Métis people, families and communities one step closer to reality..

“The MNO and its Charter Communities are looking forward to a year long celebration of Métis culture,” President Lipinski added, before concluding with an invitation to all to join the MNO as it celebrates together at the 2010 Annual General Assembly at Historic Fort William in Thunder Bay from August 21 to 23, 2010.

The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique culture, language and heritage who played an instrumental role in shaping Canada, and who work tirelessly to share their culture, traditions and knowledge of the environment with fellow Canadians.

For more information contact Joanne Meyer, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. joannem@metisnation.org or by calling 1-888-466-6684.

President Gary Lipinski and Minister Bentley with the 2010 Year of the Métis Proclamation
President Lipinski and Hon. Chris Bentley.

Picture above, from left to right: MNO Director of Lands, Resources and Consultations Melanie Paradis; MNO Vice-Chair Sharon McBride; MNO Director of Economic Development Bill Wilkinson; President Gary Lipinski; Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Hon. Chris Bentley; MNO Secretary-Treasurer Tim Pile; and MNO Director of Intergovernmental Relations Joanne Meyer.