Métis Nation of Ontario President’s Message

– May Edition –

Dear MNO Citizens,

As the final days of the MNO Election 2024 wind down, please do make sure to take the time to cast your vote! Have your voice count in our unique Métis democracy.

May is a busy month as we venture outside once again to plant our spring gardens. There are several days of significance this month including Red Dress Day (May 5), and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (May 17)—important days to stand together against violence, hate and intolerance.

Our Ongoing Fight for Metis Rights

Since its introduction in June 2023, we have worked tirelessly to advance Bill C-53 – our Métis self-government legislation. Over the last year we have had over 200 meetings with Parliamentarians about the legislation which underwent an unprecedented 15 meetings of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) committee with more than 60 witnesses. This colonial process was not of our own making and was often unfair, delayed, disrespectful and demoralizing.

At the time when our three Métis governments – the Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S), the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), and the MNO – began our co-development of C-53 as a tri-council, the Métis National Council was in disarray. Unfortunately, MNO Citizens remember that difficult time well. We worked together through that challenging time, and our three Métis governments shared a common path that Canada supported. Together, we made substantial progress.

Recently, however, the MN–S made the decision to embark on a different path, seeking its own self-government recognition legislation following negotiation of its modern self-government treaty, and we fully respect their choice. We will continue to work closely with the MN–S and other Métis governments through the Métis National Council, and in the countless daily interactions our governments have with one another as we deliver vital programs and services to our citizens.

The Future of Our Self-Government

We intend to continue pursuing our self-government legislation as does the MNA, and the future of our respective self-government remains certain. The self-government agreement we signed with Canada in February 2023 is legally binding and commits to reaching a modern self-government treaty with the MNO within two years. We have every intention of continuing to hold the government to that. I met with Minister Anandasangaree this week and delivered that message clearly.

This is too important for our people to stop the fight now. This is about our Métis children. Self-government will allow us to ensure Métis babies and children who end up in the foster care system are not lost to our communities. We will never stop fighting for our kids, and it is unacceptable that anyone would want to stop us from protecting them.

For 200 years, Canada has failed to recognize our people and our rights. The challenges we have faced through this legislative process are because of that historic failure. We knew that our self-government journey would not be easy, as nothing has ever been for the Métis people. But we will not rest until we secure this long-held dream of our ancestors.

Outreach to First Nations

In the spirit of re-establishing a fact-based, progressive, and constructive line of dialogue between the MNO and First Nations, I have written to the Chiefs of Ontario to request a meeting on multiple occasions, and shared with all Ontario First Nation Chiefs and Councils. Those requests have received no response or an outright refusal to meet. We have tried to avoid escalating these tensions because when First Nations and Métis fight, the only winner is the government. But enough is enough. Our message to First Nation leaders is clear–it is time to sit down and talk to each other. Perpetuating this unnecessary conflict only creates more division between our peoples. It remains my sincere hope that we can re-establish our long-held positive working relations for the benefit of all Indigenous peoples in Ontario.

This outreach is an important part of the MNO’s continued implementation of the Revitalizing Ontario Métis Stories, Histories, Alliances and Relationships resolution passed by our Annual General Assembly in August 2023.

Outreach to Colleges and Universities

In an effort to address the impact the past 10 months of attacks against the MNO has had on our Métis youth, the MNO is reaching out and will be engaging with post-secondary institutions across Ontario to ensure Métis students feel safe and are not subjected to harassment on campus like we have seen online. We know there are many elected leaders and citizens that are actively participating at these institutions as part of Indigenous Advisory Councils, Board of Governors, etc. and Education and Training Branch will be sharing copies of our outreach letters with Councils shortly.

MNO Treaty Negotiations

While we have spent most of the past year advocating for the legislation, we have never lost sight of our priority to complete our treaty negotiations. I can report that significant progress has been made towards securing an MNO Modern Self-Government Treaty and a long-term Fiscal Financing Agreement to support our self-government. And in the coming weeks we will begin our work to shape our Constitution which your input will be crucial in shaping.

Community News and Upcoming Events

We are also planning a number of upcoming events:

  • May/June, 2024: MNO All-Citizens AGA Resolution Writing Workshops with Paul Robitaille and Chair Hank Rowlinson. Dates will be confirmed in the coming days.
  • May 7, 2024 from 7-9PM EST: MNO All-Citizens Townhall Webinar: Code of Conduct final Engagement session – seeking citizen feedback for consideration. Register here.
  • June 1, 2024: Region 2 Tri-Council Annual General Meeting at the Valhalla Inn, Thunder Bay: The Thunder Bay and Region Métis Council, Greenstone Métis Council and Superior North Shore Métis Council are hosting a Tri-Council AGM. For more information contact your community council President to register.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for further details.

We wish you all well later this month as you gather with family and friends to mark the May long weekend.

Thank you,

Margaret Froh
President, Métis Nation of Ontario