Events highlight MNO’s achievements
MNO President Gary Lipinski addresses the
Riel Day participants at Queen’s Park in
Toronto. (left to right behind the President)
Ministers Chris Bentley, Michael Gravelle and
MPP Dave Levac.
Riel Day video from Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
ontario.ca/aboriginalNovember 16, 2010 (Toronto, ON) –– “Today we gain strength by remembering past struggles and we use that strength to find ways to move forward,” stated Gary Lipinski, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), at commemorations held yesterday at Queen’s Park in Toronto for Louis Riel Day, Louis Riel Day is held annually across the Métis Nation Homeland and this year is particularly significant because it takes place during the Year of the Métis. The Year of the Métis recognizes the many contributions of the Métis to Canada and also highlights the increasing success of the MNO in promoting its Métis rights agenda.
Communities across Ontario participated in Louis Riel Day and a provincial ceremony took place in Toronto at the Northwest Rebellion monument on the grounds of the provincial Legislature. The Honourable Chris Bentley, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, speaking at the Toronto ceremony commented on the many successes of the MNO and how these successes enrich the entire province. “Every year can be the Year of the Métis,” stated Bentley, “because if there is a brighter future for the Métis, there is a brighter future for Ontario and a brighter future for everyone.” Northern Development, Mines, and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle followed Minister Bentley and focused on the extensive work going on between his Ministry and the MNO: “I can not overstate the importance of your contributions,” explained Gravelle, “to the changes to the Mining Act. By working together we are assuring that the Métis will benefit from resource development.”
President Lipinski welcomed Ministers Bentley and Gravelle as well as the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Culture and Tourism and the Honourable Linda Jeffries, Minister of Natural Resources, who also attended the ceremony along with a number of other MPPs from all parties in the Legislature including PC MPP Ted Arnott and NDP MPP Michael Prue who spoke at the event. Also in attendance were MPPs Dave Levac, Maria Van Bommel and Garfield Dunlop. The presence of these Ministers and MPPs at the Toronto Louis Riel Day event demonstrates the positive relationship the MNO has built with the province through the MNO-Ontario Framework agreement, which was signed two years ago “The government’s willingness to sign the Framework agreement with us,” stated President Lipinski, “signaled there was a new way of doing business with the Métis and the process of reconciliation had started.”
Other speakers at the event saw Louis Riel Day as an opportunity to assert their Métis pride. France Picotte, the Chair of the MNO, commented: “While 125 years ago it would not have been the case, today Métis people are proud to say ‘I am Métis!’“ Jean Teillet, a Métis lawyer, who has defended Métis rights before the Supreme Court and who is also a descendent of Louis Riel called on the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, that is being built in Winnipeg, to include a statue of Louis Riel in their new building saying: “Louis Riel was fighting for the rights of all Canadians, not just Métis rights.” Angelica Laurin, a representative of Métis youth said that celebrating Métis heritage was about knowing who you are. She said: “Be proud of who you are, believe in yourself and reach for the stars.”
“Canada lost a great opportunity when it executed Louis Riel,” concluded President Lipinski, “but fortunately today many of the things he worked to build are becoming a reality. It is our job to keeping building on that vision.”
The federal Leader of the Opposition, Michael Ignatieff, also sent Riel Day greetings.