(Left to right) Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley, Moon River Métis Council President
Larry Duval, and MNO President GaryLipinski lead a group of MNO leaders and other diginaties
in a short canoe trip re-creating the Métis’ Voyaguer traditions, as part of the opening
ceremonies of the 2011 MNO AGA.
PARRY SOUND (August 22, 2011) – Over 400 Métis citizens and guests from Métis communities located throughout Ontario attended the Métis Nation of Ontario’s (MNO) 18th Annual General Assembly (AGA). The AGA was held at the Bobby Orr Community Centre in Parry Sound. Parry Sound sits on the Georgian Bay, an area that has been an important centre of Métis life and culture for over 300 years. Parry Sound was part of the great water routes of the fur trade and the historic northwest and provided the perfect back drop for sharing the stories of the Ontario Métis, many of which still remain untold.
In his State of the Nation address, MNO President Gary Lipinski stated, “since creating the MNO, we have built a strong, democratic Métis government in this province and have pushed the Métis agenda faster and farther than many of us ever thought possible when we started on the journey to revitalize the Métis Nation in Ontario. From our pursuit of Métis rights in the landmark Powley case to our Framework Agreement with the Ontario Government, to the creation of the Métis Voyaguer Development Fund, we are proud of what we have achieved by working together, as a people. However, we are also here today to look to the future and set new goals and priorities to strengthen ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation throughout this province.”
The AGA brought together Métis youth, women and men from across the province; local, regional and provincially elected Métis leadership; Métis Veterans; and Métis Senators. Participants attended three days of business and cultural activities, including, jigging and traditional Métis games.
Several dignitaries attended the AGA and brought greetings to the Métis citizens; including: the Honourable Chris Bentley, Attorney General of Ontario and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs; Dr. Caroline Bennett MP, Norm Miller MPP, Clem Chartier, President of the Métis National Council; David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation and Keith Saulnier, Town Councillor for Parry Sound.
AGA highlights included:
- A colourful opening ceremony featuring Métis leaders and guest dignitaries travelling in traditional Métis Voyaguer canoes from the Parry Sound Harbour to the Bobby Orr Community Centre;
- Updates about ongoing Métis rights litigation by Métis lawyers Jean Teillet and Jason Madden, including the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Cunningham v. Alberta and the upcoming Manitoba Métis land claim case that will be heard by the Supreme Court this year;
- Updates on the Métis Voyaguer Development Fund and the Ontario Government’s $30 million commitment over ten years to support the fund.
- Presentation of the Suzanne Rochan-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award to Senator Gordon Calder of Fort Francis.
- Several presentations outlining the MNO’s successes in 2010-11. Click here to view a short slide show outlining some of the year’s highlights.
MNO President Gary Lipinski concluded the AGA by recognizing and thanking all of the volunteers, staff and elected leaders within the MNO who have given so much in building the Métis Nation and advancing the MNO’s agenda in the province. “We have built the Métis Nation on the desire of our citizens and communities wanting to come together as a distinct Aboriginal people in this province, the MNO will continue to move forward on this ‘recipe for success’ to build a brighter day for Ontario Métis in the future,” said President Lipinski.
Major sponsors for this year’s MNO AGA included: the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Union Gas, Hydro One, Bruce Power, AECOM, Jones Consulting, the Royal Bank and MKI Travel.