Ottawa, ON (March 1, 2023) – The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has now completed a province-wide plebiscite that has provided all of its citizens over the age of 16 an opportunity to have their voices heard on an issue of fundamental importance to the MNO as a Métis government.

The Plebiscite: OVERVIEW

Over an 82-day voting period that began on December 8, 2022, and ended on February 28, 2023, 8,270 MNO citizens voted in the plebiscite via mail-in ballot, telephone or online. The MNO has over 31,000 citizens. A total of 27,805 MNO citizens were eligible to vote in the plebiscite because they were over the age of 16. 

MNO citizens were asked the following question:

Should all existing members/citizens of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the MNO Secretariat, whose files do not meet the current requirements for citizenship as set out in the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy, be removed as members/citizens?

A “Yes” vote meant “Incomplete” citizenship files should be removed from the MNO Registry. A “No” vote meant “Incomplete” citizenship files should remain in the MNO Registry.

An “Incomplete” citizenship file means that the MNO Registry does not have all the necessary documentation in an MNO citizen’s file to meet the current requirements for MNO citizenship as set out in the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy.

The Plebiscite: BACKGROUND

At the direction of its citizens and through its democratic self-government structures, the requirements for MNO citizenship have changed since its creation in 1993 in order to ensure that the MNO can verify its citizens are Métis rights-holders. These changes have been adopted by MNO Annual General Assemblies and are set out in the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy.

In addition, following the MNO’s victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2003 in R. v. Powley, which confirmed the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community and Steve and Roddy Powley (as members of that Métis community) have a Métis right to harvest, the MNO has been working to address various legacy issues within in its Registry, including ensuring all citizenship files include documentary proof of Métis ancestry.

Notably, other Métis governments across the Métis Nation Homeland have been doing the same over the last 20 years, since the Powley case remains as the first and only Supreme Court of Canada decision to affirm Métis rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Powley is the legal precedent all Métis communities and governments rely on for the establishment of section 35 Métis rights.

In 2017, as a part of its negotiations with Canada and Ontario on Métis self-government, the MNO initiated a Registry Review to assess the completeness of every MNO citizenship file. Additional information about the Registry Review and the MNO’s extensive work, consultations and educational efforts related to this review over the last six years is available here.

Flowing from the Registry Review, over 24,600 MNO citizens—representing 82% of the MNO’s citizenship—were verified as having “Complete” files and are verified Métis rights-holders. Approximately 5,400 MNO citizens were identified as having “Incomplete” files and could not be verified as Métis rights-holders because of missing documentation in their citizenship file.

In August 2022, the MNO Annual General Assembly directed the MNO to undertake a province-wide plebiscite on the question set out above. The MNO has a strong tradition and practice of conducting province-wide votes for important matters such as its democratic elections that are held every four years.

The Plebiscite: THE RESULTS

The plebiscite garnered a significant voter turnout amongst MNO citizens. With over 8,270 MNO citizens casting a ballot, this is more than double the number of citizens who have historically voted in any of the MNO’s previous province-wide elections.

Of the 8,270 MNO citizens who cast their ballots in the plebiscite, a clear majority (i.e., 5,898 MNO citizens) cast their ballot to remove “Incomplete” citizenship files from the MNO Registry. This means that 71% of those that voted in the plebiscite want “Incomplete” citizenship files to be removed from the MNO Registry.

It is important to emphasize that the results of this plebiscite cannot and do not remove any MNO citizen from the MNO Registry. All existing MNO citizens continue as MNO citizens after today. The plebiscite was undertaken to allow all MNO citizens an opportunity to be heard based on Métis customs and traditions in order to inform next steps.

The removal of any MNO citizen based on an “Incomplete” file can only be undertaken following a MNO special or annual assembly being called and a special resolutions being passed to amend the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy in order to provide for the removal of citizens.

With that said, the results of today’s plebiscite have given the MNO clear direction to continue to move forward on a process that ensures all MNO citizens are verified Métis rights-holders.

As it moves forward, the MNO will ensure that all legal requirements in the MNO Bylaws and its Registry Policy are met.

The Plebiscite: NEXT STEPS

With the plebiscite now complete, the 2022 MNO Annual General Assembly resolution provides the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) direction to:

… call a special General Assembly in late 2022 or early 2023 to amend the MNO Bylaws, if a majority of those who voted in the referendum provide direction to remove members/citizens with incomplete files from the MNO Registry.

Based on the clear results from the plebiscite (i.e., significantly more than a simple majority voted to remove “Incomplete” citizenship files), the PCMNO will discuss the process and timing for the calling of this special General Assembly at their next meeting and report out to MNO citizens. Given the Chief Electoral Officer’s decision to extend the voting for the plebiscite until February 28, 2023, this meeting cannot be held in early 2023.

A future special General Assembly will be called for a single purpose: to vote to amend the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy in order to remove members/citizens with “Incomplete files.” Prior to this meeting being held, the PCMNO will also publicly communicate the special resolution and proposed amendments to the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy. The PCMNO will also ensure that all of the legal requirements for the calling of this special General Assembly are met and that all MNO citizens will have ample advance notice of this meeting.

In developing these proposed changes to the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy, the PCMNO will also consider the issues raised in the What We Heard Report, including, the need for a reasonable notice period to be provided, an appeals process, and clarity that removed citizens can re-apply—at any time—in the future if they provide the required documentation.

The MNO recognizes and respect that this is a very sensitive and significant issue for all involved. This is why the MNO has taken years to work through these issues, including, offering extensive assistance and supports to MNO citizens in order to “Complete” their citizenship files. The MNO will continue to do so. And, all MNO with “Incomplete” files are encouraged to contact the MNO Registry for assistance in completing their files.


“I want to thank all the MNO citizens who participated in this important plebiscite as a part of the MNO’s ongoing journey to advance Métis rights and self-government in Ontario. The results are clear that MNO citizens want to ensure that the MNO can verify that all of its citizens are Métis rights-holders. We will move forward on this basis.

Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario

“Although the results of the plebiscite are clear, the MNO wants to acknowledge how sensitive of an issue this is for many. This is why we have taken years to advance this work and have created a transparent process that has allowed all MNO citizens to have their voices heard. As we continue to move forward, we will continue to be transparent and sensitive, while also respecting the collective will of Métis rights-holders and rights-bearing Métis communities in Ontario.”

Hank Rowlinson, Chair, Métis Nation of Ontario


Victoria Belton
Senior Consultant, Media Profile