Over the weekend, newly elected and returning members of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) concluded their multi-part, inaugural meeting over Zoom (Note: A Telephone Town Hall will take place this Wednesday to update and inform community leadership on recent developments and discussions).

The COVID-19 pandemic has impressed upon all of us the value of staying connected. In her opening remarks, MNO President Margaret Froh acknowledged the many productive dialogues that have been taking place across the MNO and how open communication will be a necessity and a priority in the coming years.

“This weekend we’ll be looking at how we can further enhance our outreach and communication with citizens,” said President Froh. “The PCMNO is focused on ensuring transparency and accountability with its citizens, and feedback from leaders and the community is critical in accomplishing this work.”

Secretary Treasurer’s Report

Following the President’s update and an approval of the minutes, PCMNO heard the Secretary-Treasurer’s Report on the Finance and Audit Committee, and a recent meeting with audit partners. The Secretary-Treasurer discussed the concept of “materiality” and its relevance to MNO Community Councils and spending which has exceeded materiality threshold. The Secretary-Treasurer recommended Councils move to consolidate and incorporate financial information into financial statements and that reporting becomes standardized for greater accountability.

Captains of the Hunt

Chief Captain of the Hunt Margaret Froh and Deputy Chief Captain of the Hunt Dr. Brian Tucker provided an update regarding the draft policies and procedures concerning incidental cabins and the Section 35 Métis right to Harvest. These policies will serve as guidance for MNO Harvesters, with regards to establishing incidental cabins, the MNO’s role in the administration of cabins, and consultation being done with legal counsel on potential liabilities and risks. Policy is not yet finalized but is a priority item for follow up action.

Conflicts of Interest

Legal counsel from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP presented on policy and legal advice concerning conflicts of interests (COI), providing an overview to ensure that the MNO policies and procedures sufficiently recognize and manage the COI issues that could be encountered. Having an effective COI management strategy is vital to good governance of any government and serves to strengthen the integrity of decisions.

Governance Compensation Framework

The PCMNO approved the two-part governance compensation framework as part of the adoption and implementation of a fair, transparent and accountable governance compensation framework for the MNO. Communication materials are being developed about the framework to share details in a transparent and accountable way to Community leadership and citizens.

Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement

Legal counsel from Pape Salter Teillet (PST) returned to continue its multi-part presentation on the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA) and all the moving pieces that need to be advanced including the work being through the tri-council with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and Métis Nation Saskatchewan (MN-S). During the presentation it was referenced that there has been confusion about what the MGRSA does and does not do and it was confirmed more than once that the MGRSA does not limit, restrict, extinguish, or modify any Métis rights or claims whatsoever.

The PCMNO reviewed MGRSA implementation, which includes draft Terms of Reference, Regional Implementation Agreements and the creation of Workplans:

  • Terms of Reference: A “road map” for the negotiations process that establishes roles, responsibilities and processes to inform the work flowing from MGRSA and Framework Agreements.
  • Regional Implementation Agreements (RIA): Outline the relationship and responsibilities of the Métis government at Provincial, Regional and Local levels, and ensure Métis Citizens and MNO Regions have a voice in the shaping of future Métis government.
  • Workplans: Designate the activities to be undertaken by each Region and the MNO in implementing the MGRSA and RIAs.

The PCMNO also discussed that during the transition some regions may wish to take steps toward regional incorporation. This could be a transitional measure to help build capacity but it was emphasized that regional incorporation is not one of the required steps to advance self-government. And, regardless of whether any regions choose to take the path of incorporation the building of capacity including providing additional resources at the regional and local level will be part of the MNO’s transition and preparation for self-government.

MNO Code of Conduct

Representatives from Pape Salter Teillet LLP gave an additional presentation on the MNO’s draft Code of Conduct. The draft policy, informed by the MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose, outlines principles and process and features recommendations such as the appointment of an Ethics and Integrity Commissioner. PCMNO were invited to provide feedback and a revised draft will be revisited at a future meeting. And, it was recommended that once a further draft is developed this be shared more widely with citizens.

Committee Appointments and Updates

Sunday afternoon featured a review of draft Terms of Reference and appointments for two Committees: the MNO Economic Development Working Group and the Infinity Trust Board. A new Project Advisory Group focused on Metis Child, Youth and Family Services (CFS) is also being developed.

Economic Development Working Group

The Economic Development Working Group provides guidance and strategic advice to the PCMNO on economic development policies, procedures and initiatives. The Terms of Reference determine that the Working Group will not exceed five members; and will include up to three PCMNO Councilors (Regional Councilors David Dusome, Mitch Case and Peter Rivers put their names forward to serve), and up to two MNO Citizens with an interest and/or expertise in economic development. An expression of interest will be communicated out and MNO Citizens will be invited to put their names forward.

Infinity Trust

The PCMNO reviewed the Infinity Trust indenture and addressed the need for new appointments to the Infinity Trust board, which oversees the management of the trust fund. The board consists of two MNO Trustees (selected from the MNO Secretariat Board) for a one-year term; and two Independent Trustees for a three-year term. MNO President Margaret Froh and Chair Hank Rowlinson were appointed as MNO Trustees. The Independent Trustees will be selected within the year. The PCMNO acknowledged the substantive contributions of Regional Councillor Stenlund who had been serving as an MNO Trustee.

Project Advisory Group: Métis Child and Youth Family Services

Recent shifts in legislation concerning child welfare has given the MNO a unique opportunity to work with the government, Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and other Indigenous Wellbeing Agencies to develop culturally-sensitive approaches to child welfare, and ultimately provide greater control over the care and protection of Métis children in Ontario. The MNO is seeking qualified individuals to join the new Project Advisory Group to support the work being done, make recommendations, and provide advice and regular reports. Terms of Reference and more information will be available on the MNO website in the near future.

Virtual Annual General Assembly 2020

Finally, a resolution passed at the previous PCMNO meeting approved the use of Data on the Spot (DOTS) as a digital platform to conduct this year’s Virtual Annual General Assembly (AGA). Representatives from DOTS provided a demonstration of their technology, showing how a secure and dynamic Virtual AGA could be realized that meets the specific needs of the MNO. The AGA will include integrated video capabilities, voting infrastructure and participation in the AGA will be accessible on all devices (including by landline phone for those without internet access). Services will be available in both French and English.

More in depth training sessions for using DOTS will be held in the near future and communication materials will be circulated to the community well in advance of the Assembly.

At this time, the 2020 AGA date has been set for November 7, 2020 and will include review and adoption of the past AGA minutes, review and adoption of financial statements, update on Self-Government, report from Advisory Councils, holding the MNO Cultural Commission Annual General Meeting and any other key business that must be conducted.

Posted July 28, 2020