MNO President Gary Lipinski speaking at the Senate Committee
on Aboriginal Peoples
On June 6, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski addressed the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. President Lipinski’s report was very well received and drew many questions from the Committee members.
In his opening remarks President Lipinski commented: “Far too often the story in Ontario as part of the larger Métis nation narrative is overshadowed or overlooked by some. This is a mistake, and I am glad to see the Senate committee will not fall into the same trap.”
President Lipinski provided the Senators with a history of the Métis people in Ontario and information about the role the MNO plays as the government of Métis people in the province. A major focus of his presentation was on the struggle for Métis rights. “Since Ontario Métis were for the most part refused entry into the historic treaties,” he explained, “Métis rights and title remain unextinguished and ‘existing’ in this province. Our rights claims must be dealt with. Presently, reconciliation through negotiations leading to agreements required by section 35 of The Constitution Act is not happening with the Métis Nation generally or the Métis Nation of Ontario specifically.”
The question and answer period following his presentation lasted approximately an hour. President Lipinski fielded questions on everything from the origin of the name “Métis,” to harvesting issues, to protecting the Michif language to other cultural questions. In an exchange with Senator Don Meredith of Ontario, who asked about the role of youth in the MNO, President Lipinski answered: “I was just speaking to all my Directors and Managers on one of our priorities [youth] certainly going forward in this term. I have had this discussion with the Premier here in Ontario. Without question, our focus will be on children and youth over the next number of years. As an analogy — prior to entering Metis politics, I was and am a teacher — you can look at the education system. There is always a certain number of students who will make it almost regardless of what happens, but you also have a number of students who, for whatever reason, whether it is not having the support structures in place or the proper role models, run into difficulties. Those are the ones we want to reach out and try to help, because if you can encourage them to get their high school graduation and look at post‑secondary the trades as a viable option or, to use the terminology, be the best they can be, we are going to create intergenerational positive effects where they will be able to get into business opportunities or a good job, be able to provide their own housing, live a healthier lifestyle and raise their children in a much better way. That is a priority the MMO will be putting a lot of attention to over the next four years. “
Click here for a complete transcript of President Lipinski’s presentation to the Senate Committee.
Click here to view a video of President Lipinski speaking to the Senate Committee.