The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) held its 21st Annual General Assembly (AGA) August 23-25 in Thunder Bay. The video above features pictures and video from the AGA and workshops and other events held before the AGA started. This included a workshop on violence against Aboriginal women and the conclusion of the MNO Canoe Expedition.

Click here for more information about MNO action to reduce violence against Aboriginal Women.

The AGA started on Saturday, August 23 with a procession led by Métis veterans. This was followed by special guests who later brought greetings to the Assembly. These included David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry as well as from Mayor Keith Hobbs of Thunder Bay; David Bell, President of the MNO Thunder Bay Métis Council; Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Member of Parliament; John Rafferty, Member of Parliament; Alexander Bezzina, Deputy Minister of Children and Youth Services; Grand Chief Harvey Yesno of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation; Leon Jourdain of the Lac La Croix First Nation representing the Grand Chief of Treaty #3; Richard Ouellet, Wabnode of the Centre for Aboriginal Services of Cambrian Collage, President Jim Madder of Confederation College; and President Clement Chartier of the Métis National Council.

During his remarks Minister Gravelle presented President Lipinski with a Queen’s Jubilee Medal in recognition for President Lipinski’s dedication to the Métis cause and his many accomplishments working together with MNO citizens and partners.

Other key issues addressed at the three day assembly included updates on current Métis rights litigation from Métis rights lawyers Jean Teillet and Jason Madden. They reported on implications of recent Métis law cases including the Manitoba Metis Federation Supreme Court victory and the Daniels case, which although recently upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

MNO citizens also heard about the MNO’s ongoing work improving opportunities for Métis children and youth. The MNO operates numerous programs that provide educational support, employment training as well as other programs that help parents and caregivers provide their children with healthy lifestyles. President Lipinski challenged all MNO citizens to encourage and support young people in believing in themselves so they would seize every possible opportunity. “This is an area where we can all play a role,” explained President Lipinski, “by providing support, especially those not getting support, we can help Métis youth become all they can be.”

The AGA also featured numerous cultural events and performances including evening entertainment featuring Métis singers and dancers. On August 24, delegates enjoyed an afternoon at Chippewa Park where they enjoyed Métis crafts and participated in the Métis Voyageur Games, a series of athletic competitions based on the historic activities of their Métis ancestors.

During Saturday evening, AGA delegates kicked up their heals at a Dinner and Dance that included both Métis cultural performances and the dynamic music of the Sensational Hot Rods, a local Thunder Bay band. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award to long-time MNO citizen Senator Bob McKay.

Throughout the AGA, many AGA delegates and MNO staff participated in the ALS Ice-bucket Challenge including MNO President Lipinski and MNO Chair France Picotte. President Lipinski was challenged by Region 9 PCMNO Councillor Peter Rivers while Chair Picotte was challenged by PCMNO Youth Representative Mitch Case.

The major sponsors of the AGA were: TransCanada; ATCO Structures and Logistics; Collins Barrow; Bruce Power; Hydro One; Enbridge; Cameco; the Abitibi/Temiscamingue & James Bay Consultation Committee; Gold Canyon; Detour Gold; Rubicon; Rio Tinto; Toronto-Dominion; Union Gas; Vale; GoldCorp; Xeneca; Royal Bank; DGR Deep Geologic Repository Project; IAMGOLD; Prodigy Gold; Capcorp; LedCor Group; New Gold; Stillwater; Nuinsco, Treasury Metals; Great White North Technology Consulting; and Bytown Travel.