Métis Nation of Ontario Releases “What We Heard” Report from Province-Wide Consultations on Registry Review
Upcoming Annual General Assembly to Consider Next Steps
July 29, 2022 (Ottawa, ON) — Today, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) publicly released the report from its year-long, province-wide consultations on the results from its Registry and Self-Government Readiness Process (“Registry Review”). A copy of the “What We Heard” Registry Review Consultation Report (“What We Heard Report”) is available here. A summary of the report is also included below.
In 2017, the Registry Review was initiated through a resolution passed by the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) in order to prepare for negotiations on Métis rights and self-government with both Canada and Ontario. In addition, the Registry Review sought to provide the MNO with greater clarity on the composition of its overall citizenship (i.e., how many citizens ancestrally connected to Ontario Métis communities, western Canada, etc.).
This Registry Review was necessary because when the MNO was first established as a Métis government in 1993 it did not have any funding or capacity to maintain a comprehensive registry system. In addition, in 2004, like other Métis Nation governments from Ontario westward, the MNO Annual General Assembly (MNO AGA) changed the definition of Métis in the MNO Bylaws to align with the national definition for Métis Nation citizenship as well as the guidelines set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley to identify Métis rights-holders.
In May 2021, the Registry Review Final Report prepared by KnowHistory was publicly released and documented that an overwhelming majority of MNO citizens (i.e., 77%) have “Complete” or “could be complete” (i.e., “Missing Documentation”) files. Over the four years that the Registry Review was undertaken, every single MNO citizen was sent a letter informing them on the status of their citizenship file. These letters also included suggestions for how “Incomplete” files could be completed. As of July 1, 2022, the percentage of “Complete” or “could be complete” MNO citizenship files has increased to 82%. Detailed statistics with respect to the MNO Registry as of January 31, 2021 (i.e., the date the Registry Review was completed) and as of July 1, 2022 are provided below.
The issue of what should be done with “Incomplete” citizenship files has been a contentious issue within the MNO for over a decade. In 2010, following the PCMNO’s adoption of the MNO’s more stringent Registry Policy, the Annual General Assembly directed that province-wide consultations be undertaken on the new policy and affirmed that no citizen could be removed as a citizen without amendments being made to the MNO Bylaws. The MNO AGA also directed that “while these consultations are ongoing the longstanding MNO Registry verification processes for existing MNO citizens to run and hold office will be maintained.” In 2014, following multi-year consultations, the MNO AGA adopted the Registry Policy. The MNO verification policy has also been amended to now ensure Métis rights-holders are representing Métis rights-holders at the local, regional, and provincial levels throughout the MNO.
- That the Registry Review Consultation Report be publicly released, along with updated statistics on the MNO Registry as of July 1, 2022;
- That the proposed agenda for the 2022 MNO AGA include a presentation on the Registry Review and the Registry Review Consultation Report on Saturday morning as well as consideration of an ordinary resolution to provide direction to the MNO with respect to next steps;
- That the PCMNO recommend to the 2022 MNO AGA that a province-wide referendum be held in the Fall/Winter of 2022 on whether citizens with “incomplete” files should be removed from the MNO Registry in order to allow for all MNO citizens (including those with “incomplete” files) to vote on this issue and to provide direction on whether the MNO Bylaws should be amended;
- That the PCMNO and MNO administration consult with citizens, Community Councils and the MNO’s advisory bodies on the development of an ordinary resolution to be brought forward for discussion, debate and a decision following the presentation on the Registry Review Consultation Report on Saturday morning at the 2022 MNO AGA;
The MNO Registry can be reached toll free at 1-855-798-1006 or at 613-798-1006. You can also communicate with the MNO Registry via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background on the Registry Review
- A total of 71% of all MNO citizenship files (17,014 MNO citizens) were confirmed as having “Complete” citizenship files (i.e., their file included all the necessary documentation required to meet the MNO’s current definition for citizenship and the MNO Registry Policy).
- Another 1.4% of MNO citizenship files (330 MNO citizens) could “Complete” their file if they signed the MNO’s required Oath of Allegiance, and another 4.7% (1,132 MNO citizens) could “Complete” their file simply by providing missing genealogical documents. If these outstanding requirements were met, a total of 77% of MNO citizenship files (18,476 MNO citizens) would be confirmed as “Complete”.
- A total of 22.5% of current MNO citizenship files (5,402 MNO citizens) were determined to have “Incomplete” files.
- In addition, as a part of the review, 1,061 MNO citizens’ files were determined to be inactive because of death, suspension, or withdrawal and were removed from the MNO Registry. At the end of the review, less than 1% of files reviewed remained “In Process”.
- 23,011 (78%) citizens having “Complete” files meaning they satisfy the requirements for MNO citizenship as outlined in the MNO Bylaws and MNO Registry Policy;
- 1,140 (4%) citizens having files that are “Missing Documentation” meaning they could be confirmed as “Complete” upon the receipt of certain documentation (e.g., an Oath of Allegiance or genealogical documentation);
- 5,321 (18%) citizens having “Incomplete” files meaning the MNO is not able to verify an ancestral connection to a Métis ancestor for these citizens based on the currently-available historic record; and
- 56 citizenship files (less than 1%) being currently reviewed/assessed.
On May 28, 2021, the PCMNO passed a resolution directing the MNO administration to, among other things, undertake province-wide consultations on the Registry Review results—with a view to developing a “What We Heard” report based on those consultations for public release. The purpose of the consultation process was to gather citizens’ views on how, if at all, to implement the findings of the Registry Review to further advance Métis self-government and rights.
Over the course of almost a year, the MNO engaged with all interested MNO citizens and leadership through a series of virtual town halls (June-September 2021), an online feedback portal (February-April 2022), and an MNO leadership rendezvous session (May 2022). In total, over 1,000 citizens participated in these various consultation initiatives.
In addition, throughout the consultation process, the MNO continued to provide additional updates and information directly to citizens through direct correspondence, the Métis Voyageur, and updates on the MNO’s designated Registry Review webpage. The results of these engagements have been compiled into the now publicly available “What We Heard” Report.
- Métis rights and the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose;
- Integrity and legitimacy of the MNO and the MNO Registry;
- Current and future citizenship requirements;
- Barriers to accessing genealogical information and requests for increased support;
- Métis adoption and Indian Act deregistration;
- Moving forward and dealing with “Incomplete” files; and
- Requests for an appeal/reconsideration process for citizen registration decisions.
- MNO citizens indicated strong support for Métis rights and the principles embedded in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose. For example, nearly all citizens who participated in the online feedback portal confirmed that they: believe in and support Métis rights (i.e., 99%) and/or expressed support for the prioritization of the advancement of Métis rights and self-government as outlined in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose (96%). This feedback was consistent with the feedback received during the town halls and leadership rendezvous sessions.
- MNO citizens stressed that protecting the integrity of the MNO and the MNO Registry was a key priority. For example, 68% of citizens who participated in the online feedback portal thought that the inclusion of persons within the MNO who are not verified section 35 rights-holders would undermine the MNO’s credibility as a Métis government and/or its ability to advance Métis rights and Métis self-government. For a significant number of citizens, the MNO’s advancement of Métis rights was also foundational to their participation in the MNO as only 45% of respondents in the online feedback portal indicated that they would continue to support and be a part of the MNO if it continued to represent non-section 35 rights holders. These topics also featured prominently in the virtual town hall discussions.
- The vast majority of participating MNO citizens confirmed their support for the MNO’s current definition of “Métis,” which requires proof of Métis ancestry. Notably, 86% of citizens that submitted responses through the online feedback portal confirmed that they agree with the Métis ancestry requirement for MNO citizenship as outlined in the MNO Bylaws and MNO Registry Policy.
- MNO citizens highlighted the importance of the Registry Review engagement process to the MNO’s broader self-government process, including the development of a future Métis law on citizenship. These comments from the town halls and the online feedback portal stressed the importance of starting with a baseline requirement that citizens be rightsholders, but indicated that further conversations related to adoption, community acceptance, and/or deregistration related to the Indian Act may be needed.
- A variety of options were suggested by MNO citizens with citizenship removal for citizens unable to complete their files within 6 months attracting the most support from participating MNO citizens. There was also overwhelming support for an appeals/reconsideration process. In particular, approximately 46% of citizens that responded through the online feedback portal (i.e., the option attracting the most support from participating citizens) provided comments in support of: removing citizens with “Incomplete” files from the MNO Registry, taking some form of action to support the MNO’s Métis rights and self-government agenda or strengthen the MNO Registry, and/or were supportive of the Registry Review process to date. Concerning timelines, 50% of participating citizens stated that no more than 6 months should be provided for citizens to complete their files; however, a majority of responses received through the online feedback portal (61%) indicated that there should be an appeals or reconsideration process made available to citizens with “Incomplete” files. Other options provided by citizens included: use of a grandfathered system and/or temporary “holding” or “archiving” citizenship files.
A reoccurring sentiment throughout the consultation process was a need to handle the results of the Registry Review and potential next steps with care, consideration, and compassion for affected MNO citizens—especially those who may have been instrumental in the MNO’s creation and evolution or may have adopted Métis traditions and a Métis way of life.