As Métis, we are nation builders; we stand up and stand strong for the rights, respect and recognition of our families and communities. It has been 17 years since the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) celebrated Canada’s highest court’s unanimous decision alongside the Métis Governments in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, ending a ten-year legal battle and ushering in a new era recognizing Métis rights in Canada. Now known as “Powley Day”, September 19th celebrates the anniversary of the landmark Métis rights victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Powley.
In Powley, the courts recognized and affirmed what the MNO had been saying all along–that there were distinct Métis people and communities on the land before Canada became Canada, before Ontario became Ontario, with a culture and identity all their own, and that their rights were entrenched within Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution.
While other Métis rights cases had been fought in the courts before, Powley was the first to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. It was lead by the MNO, the Powley family and the Métis community around Sault Ste. Marie, but all Métis communities across Canada have greatly benefited from it.
The victory in Powley set the stage for a series of achievements for Métis people, not just in Ontario but across the Métis Nation Homeland, including the groundbreaking Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreements signed in June, 2019 by the MNO and its sister governments, the Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation – Saskatchewan–the only three Métis Governments that have been formally recognized as governments by Canada.
Today, we remember the sacrifices made by Steve, Roddy and the entire Powley family, and reflect on how the Powley decision forever changed the world for Métis in Canada–finally securing recognition of Métis as a distinct Indigenous peoples within Canada, and helping open the path forward toward full Métis self-government.
Powley Day acknowledgements from the other Tri-council Presidents:
— Glen McCallum, President of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan“Today marks a pivotal day in the history of the centuries long fight for Métis rights. Today we celebrate the victory of Steve and Roddy Powley. Their determination and perseverance led the Supreme Court of Canada to recognize and affirm Métis rights in 2003. This is the foundation upon which our continued march to self-determination and self-government is built upon across the Métis Nation. Merci, miigwetch, thank you, marsee.”
— Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta“Powley Day is a time to celebrate the dedication and courage of two Métis men who fought for the rights of Métis in Ontario and across the Homeland. It’s an empowering reminder of the determination of the Métis spirit and what it can accomplish. Harvesting is woven into the Métis identity, we have lived off this land for generations and I encourage all to take a moment this fall to reflect on how Steve and Roddy Powley’s fight for justice raised the profile of Métis rights in Canada.”
Posted September 18, 2020