Report Sets Stage for Nation-to-Nation Discussions with Canada
(July 21, 2016) — Today, on behalf of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens and Métis communities from across Ontario, MNO President Margaret Froh offered her thanks and appreciation to Tom Isaac—Canada’s Ministerial Special Representative (MSR) on Métis Section 35 Rights—for his helpful and thorough report on how to advance reconciliation with the Métis Nation.
Mr. Isaac’s report, entitled, “A Matter of National and Constitutional Import” was publicly released today and comes after he was appointed in June 2015 to meet with the MNO, other Métis Nation governments, provinces, territories and other interested parties in order to assess the current state of affairs and provide independent advice and recommendations on a “way forward” on Métis Section 35 Rights. A copy of the report and a summary document prepared by the MNO is available at www.metisnation.org.
“The MNO commends Mr. Isaac for his important work. As the home of the first and only Supreme Court of Canada decision—R. v. Powley—that has recognized Section 35 Métis Rights, this report is extremely important to the MNO who advanced this landmark Métis harvesting rights litigation on behalf of the Métis community in the Sault Ste. Marie region from 1993 to 2003. It is also gratifying that Mr. Isaac’s report recognizes the MNO as a ‘Métis government’ and a leader on advancing Métis rights across the Métis Nation,” said MNO President Froh.
Specifically, Mr. Isaac finds that “[a]n example of a Métis government being duly authorized by its members can be found in how the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was established and functions.” Mr. Isaac goes on to note the MNO’s centralized Registry as a means to identify Section 35 Rights-Holders, the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement, the MNO’s “comprehensive Métis hunting policy,” the passage of the MNO Secretariat Act by the Ontario legislature, and the MNO-Canada Consultation Agreement, as positive examples of what can be achieved when Métis and other levels of government work together. (MSR Report, pp. 14, 21, 22)
Mr. Isaac’s report makes 17 recommendations and includes key findings that should guide future federal action on Métis Section 35 Rights issues, including, the need for:
- the development of a Section 35 Métis Rights Framework that will be implemented with Métis communities who meet the legal framework set out in the Powley case. (Recommendation #16)
- Métis inclusion within existing federal claims processes available to other Aboriginal peoples or the development of a new Métis-specific claims process to address unresolved Métis claims like the “Treaty 3 [Halbreed] Adhesion” and other breached Crown promises to the Métis. (Recommendation #9)
- a ‘whole-of-government’ approach for improved information and knowledge about the Métis and Métis Section 35 Rights amongst federal officials and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada regional offices, including improving Crown-Métis consultation processes. (Recommendations #1, 4, 5, 10, 11)
- timely, stable and long-term federal funding to support Métis governments like the MNO, including permanent support for the MNO centralized Registry. (Recommendations #2, 6)
- a comprehensive review of existing federal programs and services available to Indigenous peoples as well as all future federal initiatives to ensure they deal with the Métis distinctly and equitably. (Recommendation #3)
President Froh added, “Mr. Isaac’s report and recommendations set the stage for Canada to move forward on its commitment to advance reconciliation and a nation-to-nation relationship with the Métis Nation. Within Ontario, this will be achieved through discussions and negotiations between Canada and the MNO as the regional Métis Nation government in this province. The MNO fully endorses Mr. Isaac’s rights-based “roadmap,” which focuses on the three R’s—recognition, relationships and reconciliation.”
“In the next few months, in order to address the exciting opportunities before us and follow through on my recent election campaign commitment, the MNO will be initiating province-wide consultations under a Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government to engage our citizens and communities at the grassroots level on Mr. Isaac’s report, the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in the Daniels case, emerging issues on Métis harvesting rights and how the MNO further advances Métis self-government in Ontario,” concluded President Froh.
The MNO is the representative government of Métis Nation citizens and Métis communities throughout Ontario. For more information about the MNO visit www.metisnation.org.
Published on: July 21, 2016