Métis Nation of Ontario Concludes 30th Annual General Assembly

Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Landmark Decision in R. v. Powley on Métis Rights

Ottawa, ON (August 21, 2023) – Today, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) concluded its 30th Annual General Assembly (AGA) held on August 17th to 20th in Ottawa. The AGA brought together hundreds of Métis citizens from across the province and marked a historic milestone for the MNO as a Métis government.
“In 1993, a group of like-minded Métis citizens and longstanding Métis communities from across Ontario came together to exercise their inherent right to self-determination, to advance Métis rights and interests in this province, and created the MNO as their democratic Métis government,” said MNO President Margaret Froh.

“Over the last 30 years, we have faced many challenges as a Métis government in a province that used to deny our very existence. By staying true to our Statement of Prime Purpose—and working together—we signed an agreement with Canada earlier this year that formally recognizes the MNO as a Métis government. Unquestionably, we have much to celebrate at this AGA!”  
In addition to signing a new self-government agreement in February 2023, federal legislation recognizing the MNO and other Métis governments in Saskatchewan and Alberta was introduced in Parliament in June 2023. This legislation, known as Bill C-53, will finally overcome the lack of recognition Métis have face for generations. Bill C-53 is reconciliation in action and will finally make substantive progress on implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 for the Métis. 

A recently launched information website on Bill C-53 was also announced at the AGA
In 1993, the MNO began with two staff and its head office was located in the attic of the former MNO President’s home. It now has over 35 offices across Ontario, close to 450 staff, delivers programs and services to its citizens in the areas of employment, training, housing, economic development, health and many other sectors, and manages annual budgets of over $130 million. The MNO has also negotiated agreements with other governments dealing with Métis harvesting rights, Crown consultation and reconciliation.
As a part of the MNO’s celebrations, former MNO Presidents Tony Belcourt (1993-2008) and Gary Lipinski (2008-2016) joined the AGA and shared their insights on just how far the MNO has come in only three decades. In addition, the 7th Annual Métis Youth Leadership Conference was held by the MNO Youth Council in advance of the AGA.

The AGA was attended by various friends and dignitaries including Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and Mayor of Ottawa, Mark Sutcliffe. Métis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras also attended and received recognition for her remarkable 27 years of leadership and service to the Métis Nation. MNO citizens also received greetings and well-wishes from newly appointed Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister, the Hon. Gary Anandasangaree; Minister of Indigenous Services, the Hon. Patty Hadju; Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the Hon. Pierre Poilievre; Toronto—St. Paul’s MP, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett; Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MP, Jamie Schmale; Leader of the Ontario NDP, Marit Stiles; Interim Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, John Fraser; and on behalf of the Government of Ontario, Carleton MPP Goldie Ghamari.
As a part of the AGA, the MNO also celebrated the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada’s release of its unanimous judgement in R. v. Powley that was released on September 19, 2003. The Powley case involved two MNO citizens—Steve and Roddy Powley—who were charged with illegally hunting a moose outside of Sault Ste. Marie and who defended themselves against those charges based on their membership in the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community that is situated in the Upper Great Lake region of Ontario.   
With the MNO’s support, the Powleys were successfully defended at trial and all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Over their 10-year “hunt for justice” (1993-2003), a total of 14 judges all agreed that there was—and remains—a rights-bearing Métis community in the Sault Ste. Marie region of Ontario and that this community possesses a Métis right to hunt for food that is protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.  
To this day, the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community are the only Métis community in all of Canada to be recognized as possessing a Métis right protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Powley case is a precedent-setting case on Métis rights that has led to the negotiation of Métis rights from Ontario westward and provides the legal framework for the establishment of constitutionally protected Métis rights.
As a part of the ongoing implementation of Métis self-government, the Powley case and Métis rights in Ontario, the AGA also passed a resolution to develop and implement a multi-year, multi-faceted strategy, entitled, “Revitalizing Our Stories, Histories, Alliances and Relationships.” A copy of the resolution is available here. This strategy includes the following four pillars:
  1. Telling Our Stories and Histories
  2. Building an Ontario Métis Educational Institute
  3. Rekindling and Renewing Our Historic Alliances and Relationships with First Nations 
  4. Defending Ontario Métis Youth, Families and Communities Against Misinformation
“In recent months, it has become apparent from positions being advanced by some as well as media coverage that there is a lack of knowledge about Ontario Métis history, and much misinformation about the MNO, our citizens and our communities,” said MNO President Margaret Froh.  
President Froh added, “The MNO recognizes we have work to do to try to rebuild our relationships with willing Ontario First Nations as well as educate the media, educational institutions and the public-at large about Ontario Métis. This resolution provides a roadmap for this important work to begin, as we embark on the next 30 years of the MNO’s history,” said MNO President Margaret Froh.
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About the MNO
In 1993, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was established through the will of Métis people and their communities coming together throughout Ontario to create a Métis-specific, democratic, province-wide governance structure. The MNO represents and advocates on behalf of its citizens who are rights-bearing members of Métis communities that collectively hold rights, interests, and outstanding claims protected by sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including, but not limited to, the right of self-government. Ontario is home to the 2003 Powley decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the existence of the Métis right to harvest for food that is protected by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Powley was—and remains—the only Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) decision affirming Métis rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
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