Métis Nation of Ontario Responds to Misrepresentations at the Indigenous Identity Fraud Summit

May 14, 2024 (Ottawa, ON) — Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) representatives are available for interview and fact-checking. In the following statement, the MNO addresses recent false claims concerning rights-bearing Métis communities in Ontario, and our exclusion from the “Indigenous Identity Fraud Summit” on May 14 and 15:

“As the recognized government of Métis people and communities in Ontario, MNO affirms its commitment to constructive dialogue and factual discourse regarding the rights and history of its communities. Historic rights-bearing Métis communities unquestionably exist in Ontario. This was definitively proven by the unanimous Supreme Court of Canada decision, R v. Powley. The MNO represents approximately 28,000 verifiable, rights-bearing Métis citizens in Ontario. We will defend our citizens and the Métis communities we represent. For the past year, MNO citizens have been attacked in the media and online. Our youth have faced harassment at school. Entire Métis families have had their identities called into question. This needs to end.

It is disappointing that the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and Chiefs of Ontario (COO) have chosen to exclude the MNO from participating in the upcoming “Indigenous Identity Fraud Summit.” This exclusion undermines the potential for a comprehensive and inclusive discussion on this critical issue affecting all Indigenous communities in Canada.

Indigenous identity fraud is a serious issue that requires serious solutions. The MNO shares the MMF’s and COO’s concerns on this issue. But Indigenous peoples only lose when we fight amongst ourselves and approach self-determination as a zero-sum game. The only winners are colonial governments who find further reason to ignore our inherent rights and stand idly by.

With rights come obligations. Obligations to Mother Earth, preservation of the environment and all species. It also comes with obligations to one another, to respect others and their rights. To seek conversation, reconcile differences and work in harmony with all Indigenous peoples for the common good. This is fundamental to the MNO and is embedded in our Statement of Prime Purpose.

The MNO remains steadfast in its dedication to the well-being of its citizens and to the integrity of Métis governance. We urge MMF and COO to embrace an open and inclusive approach to discussions about Indigenous identity and rights.”

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Background Information: Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Advocating for Métis Rights and Recognition

The MNO was established in 1993 as a Métis specific government to represent historical rights-bearing Métis communities in Ontario, as well as individuals from more western Métis communities that reside in Ontario today. One of these Métis communities in Ontario, the Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community, was the first—and to date only—Métis community anywhere in Canada to have their Section 35 rights affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

From 1993 to 2003, the entire Métis National Council (MNC)—including the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF)—supported the Powley family, Sault Ste Marie Métis Community, and MNO during the decade the Powley case it worked its way up to the SCC. This collective effort culminated in a unanimous SCC victory which affirmed that the Métis are a distinct rights-bearing Aboriginal people, as well as creating a ten-part test (Powley test) for the establishment of Métis Section 35 rights in other Métis communities.

In its unanimous decision, the SCC also affirmed the position taken by the MNC in its intervention supporting the Powleys, including that a distinct rights-bearing Métis community exists at Sault Ste. Marie, in the Upper Great Lakes region. 

Métis Nation governments, including the MNO and MMF, continue to use the Powley test to establish Section 35 Métis rights within their jurisdictions, and to ground their citizenship registries the credibility and verifiability. 

As recently as 2019, the MMF recognized Métis rights in Ontario, supported MNO’s right to self-government, and affirmed the Powley test as the basis for claiming Aboriginal rights under Section 35.

The MMF’s wholesale opposition to the MNO and Métis rights assertions in Ontario is recent, contradicts its previous positions, and has passed without inquiry or questioning by media. 

The MNO continues to promote transparent dialogue and fact-based understanding of Métis rights and identity. MNO seeks to correct misconceptions and share the facts about Métis communities and rights in Ontario at all forums, including the upcoming “Indigenous Identity Fraud Summit”.

The MNO sent letters to the MMF and COO on May 2nd, asking to participate in and present at their “Indigenous Identity Fraud Summit”, as the basis for a transparent and fact-based dialogue. Despite our efforts, MNO has received no response. 

The MNO has always been, and remains, committed to respectful and constructive discourse regarding Métis identity and rights. MNO remains dedicated to correcting the record where necessary. We stand ready to participate in all fact-based discussions that further Métis rights and recognition.