September 19 is Powley Day
As Métis, we stand up and stand strong for the rights, respect and recognition of our families and communities.
19 years ago, alongside the Métis Governments in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the Métis Nation of Ontario celebrated a unanimous decision in Canada’s highest court. That was the end of a ten-year legal battle that ushered in a new era recognizing Métis rights in Canada.
Now known as “Powley Day”, September 19th celebrates the anniversary of that landmark Métis rights victory at the Supreme Court of Canada in R v Powley.
In Powley, the courts recognized and affirmed what we 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 led 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.
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 people within Canada, and helping open the path forward toward full Métis self-government.