On October 3-4, 2020, the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) met via Zoom to deal with the business of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). Since the previous meeting held July 25-26, the PCMNO has continued its work to advance key priorities—including updates to the MNO’s Covid-19 response; a review of the MNOs audited financial statements and reporting processes; updates on MNO’s Prosperity Trust; developments regarding MNO policies and procedures; MNO Rules of Order Revitalization Project; appointments to the MNO Economic Development Working Group; and updates on MNO’s path to Self-Government.

In her opening comments, MNO President Margaret Froh expressed her continued appreciation for the work being done by communities at the local and regional levels, and for the tools that make virtual meetings possible:

“We continue as always to put the health and safety of our people, staff and communities first in this fight against the pandemic,” said President Froh. “We are a resilient people and we absolutely will win this fight by staying together and staying strong. In these extraordinary times, it’s been heartening to see how we will continue to come together and are fortunate to have tools like Zoom to make this possible.”

President’s Update

The President’s Update highlighted the many ways the MNO is responding to the needs of MNO Citizens and their families during the pandemic. The MNO continues to develop and enhance available Covid-19 support; including new programs in housing, a Mental Health & Addictions Crisis Line, and free legal and financial counseling services, among others. Also raised was feedback from MNO Citizens on Covid-19 supports and the recent Electoral Process, an update from the Captains of the Hunt, developments on MNO staff supports and resources, and communication strategies.

Finance Update

The PCMNO Secretary-Treasurer began her report by outlining progress made by the Finance and Audit Committee. Her presentation included the collaborative work being done to support Community Councils in providing the required financial reporting. Also reviewed was the status of the budget process for 2019-20 and 2020-21, and updates on MNO Financial Policies and Procedures. Information was provided about an operational review of the Finance Branch that was conducted, and recommendations to strengthen overall functions. PCMNO approved motions for the creation of a fully searchable matrix of AGA, PCMNO, and Executive Committee Minutes, and Records of Decisions; and that application and renewal fees for Citizenship and Harvesting Cards be waived permanently.

Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA) – Best Practices

A draft document outlining best practices for IBA management was presented to the PCMNO for review and feedback. These best practices are intended to serve as guidelines and are designed to foster positive and productive relationships between industry proponents and Métis communities, while prioritizing the latter’s long term health and prosperity. As the MNO transitions into self-government, transparency and accountability are key. These will be taken out to regional and local community leadership for discussion and feedback. Draft best practices outlined include:

  • Negotiations
  • Investments
  • Expenditures
  • Reporting

MNO Investment Policies and Guidelines, and Prosperity Trust performance updates

Representatives from T.E Wealth delivered a walk-through on the draft Statement on Investment Policies and Guidelines, recommended for approval by PCMNO by the Finance and Audit Committee. An amended draft will be circulated for review and feedback. T.E. Wealth and Prosperity Trust’s corporate Trustee also presented updates on the MNO Prosperity Trust and strategies to secure prosperity, economic self-sufficiency, and wealth creation for the MNO and Citizens.

Audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year 2019/2020

The Finance Update included a presentation from independent audit partner Baker Tilly on the MNO audited financial statements. The PCMNO passed a resolution to approve and recommend the “Métis Nation of Ontario Financial Statements for the Year Ended March 31, 2020” for ratification at the 2020 Annual General Assembly. Audit highlights include MNO having fully retired its debt from 2004, as well as generating a tidy surplus at year end.

Virtual Annual General Assembly (AGA) – Planning Update

Registration is now open for the Virtual MNO AGA 2020 taking place November 7, 2020. Citizens must register in advance to vote. Once registered, materials will be sent electronically to Citizens (those participating via telephone will be mailed a physical copy). A draft agenda for the event is currently being reviewed; and the MNO is developing a short instructional video for Citizens and a guide on how to participate.

The MNO plans to host another Virtual Kitchen Party the evening before the AGA (November 6).

Vendors interested in participating in the AGA virtual trade show should contact Russell Ott at russello@metisnation.org

Practice meetings to test the technology have been tentatively scheduled for:

  • MNO Staff Town Hall – October 9, 2020
  • MNO Citizens Town Hall – October 28, 2020 (more details to come)

PCMNO Swearing-in Ceremony

While all members of PCMNO signed their Oath of Allegiance upon taking office, a formal swearing-in ceremony was held virtually for the newly-elected PCMNO members on Saturday, October 3. After confirming the Oath of Allegiance, PCMNO were sworn in by the Honourable Todd Ducharme, the first Métis person to be appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. A recording of the ceremony is available at on the MNO website

New Relationship Fund (NRF)

A briefing on the history and background of the New Relationship Fund (NRF) was provided and approval to proceed with a distribution plan for this fiscal year’s fund was given. However, PCMNO clearly committed to revisit the process for distribution for future years and to start these conversations right away.

MNO Rules of Order Revitalization Project and Métis Meeting Procedures

As part of MNO continuing to strengthen its governance documents and inclusivity efforts, the PCMNO is working closely with Parliamentarian Eli Mina to draft revitalized Métis meeting procedures and Rules of Order. The draft document is intended to guide and inform conversations with Citizens on meeting policies and procedures, decision-making, and conflict resolution in the coming months.

Update on MNO Draft Policies – Code of Conduct / Conflicts of Interest

Discussions focused on the importance of meaningful community engagement and feedback in the development of policies that will support and strengthen relations at all levels of MNO. The PCMNO proposed a “backgrounder” be sent to MNO leadership and communities as quickly as possible with key questions to be addressed, inviting feedback from all citizens on the development of these key policies and processes for dispute resolution.

Legal Updates and Self-Government

Legal counsel provided updates on harvesting matters that had previously been discussed with the Regions and Captains of Hunt, and the PCMNO set direction for research to inform next steps and potential policy options. A briefing was shared on the very short window being offered by the Government of Canada to provide input into the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) legislation. MNO along with the Métis governments of Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan were provided with an initial look at the engagement deck and aggressive plan to provide feedback. An update is being prepared for communities. Additionally, legal counsel presented a high level review of the work required at multilateral and bilateral levels to continue to advance the MNO’s framework agreements and the MGRSA, and the immense amount of internal work needed for sustained progress.

It was noted that the MNO can set its own pace, but that there is a window with certain targeted resources needed to advance specific steps and achieve full recognition as a Métis Government in Canadian Law. The PCMNO discussed future plans to meet and undertake a deeper investigation into key aspects, as well as the need for extensive education and engagement with MNO communities and Citizens.

Posted: October 8, 2020