RECAP: Hybrid PCMNO Meeting held in Ottawa
March 8, 2023
On March 8, 2023 a hybrid meeting of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) was held in downtown Ottawa with elected MNO leadership, staff and citizens attending the session both virtually and in-person. PCMNO were provided updates from Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) staff on key files including the environment and climate change; the New Relationship Fund (NRF) application; and updates on investments in creating affordable housing for Métis in Ontario. The PCMNO also received in-camera updates from MNO’s legal counsel, Rights, Research & Policy (RRP) and Self-Government Strategy teams; including discussions on the recent self-government implementation agreement signing and next steps on the now concluded province-wide plebiscite vote.
MNO President Margaret Froh
MNO President Margaret Froh began her remarks by acknowledging International Women’s Day and praising the great work being done by Métis women leaders across the Métis Nation, including upcoming local initiatives focusing on women’s health.
In her update, the President recognized several historic milestones for the Métis Nation, referencing the 20th anniversary of the land-mark and Métis rights-affirming Powley Case; the 30th anniversary of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Secretariat; and the 40th anniversary of the Métis National Council (MNC).
Province-Wide Plebiscite Vote
With the plebiscite now complete, the 2022 MNO Annual General Assembly resolution provides the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) direction to:
… call a special General Assembly in late 2022 or early 2023 to amend the MNO Bylaws, if a majority of those who voted in the referendum provide direction to remove members/citizens with incomplete files from the MNO Registry.
Based on the clear results from the plebiscite (i.e., significantly more than a simple majority voted to remove “Incomplete” citizenship files), a future special General Assembly will be called for a single purpose: to vote to amend the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy in order to remove members/citizens with “Incomplete files.” Prior to that meeting being held, PCMNO will publicly communicate the special resolution and proposed amendments to the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy. The PCMNO will also ensure that all of the legal requirements for the calling of this special General Assembly are met and that all MNO citizens will have ample advance notice of this meeting.
Updated Self-Government Agreement Signed
“After six years of negotiations, our new Self-Government Agreement immediately recognizes the MNO as an Indigenous government representing citizens and communities in Ontario,” shared President Froh. “It also gives us law-making powers and authority over our citizenship, elections and internal operations or governance; as well as Métis child welfare services.”
The President also noted that the Métis Government Recognition and Self Government Implementation Agreement, like the 2019 MGRSA, does not affect, extinguish or impact any Métis rights interests or claims. It also affirms MNO Regions and Community Councils as both internal and integral parts of our Métis government.
“Our next steps will be starting that important work of drafting our constitution, engaging with citizens on that constitution; and to continue working with the government on our Self-Government Treaty negotiations established under the recent Implementation Agreement,” says President Froh. “And we will continue to press the federal government to introduce the [Federal Recognition] Legislation into Parliament that will anchor our nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship.”
Métis National Council Board of Governors Meeting
President Froh recently met with Métis leadership at the MNC Board of Governors meeting on March 7, which discussed several key subjects, including updates on a 2021 MNC General Assembly Resolution concerning historic Métis communities in Ontario represented by the MNO. The 2022 MNC Assembly had also passed a resolution placing timelines on the work, including convening a panel and producing a report for the next MNC General Assembly.
At this time, MNC leadership has agreed to prioritize key events such as securing the critical Federal Recognition Legislation, and the BOG have agreed to place matter of historic communities on hold until legislation and conditions have been met.
Road to the Ring of Fire Update
PCMNO were provided with a briefing note regarding Ontario’s proposed plans for the road to the Ring of Fire mining development area. At the recent Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, Ontario announced its co-developed plans for an all-season Northern Road Link which will connect First Nation communities to the critical mineral deposits of the Ring of Fire and to the provincial highway network.
The MNO has been consulting on the Ring of Fire for more than ten years and President Froh confirmed that this important consultation work will continue.
Environment and Climate Change Update
Jesse Fieldwebster, Manager, Lands, Resources and Consultations Branch (LRC)
An update was provided by the MNO’s Environment and Climate Change team lead, highlighting investments and actions needed to address climate change and engage citizens; including the creation of an Environmental Working Group, and the development of Environmental Protection Policy(s) as set out in a previous AGA Resolution.
The MNO is currently in the process of collecting data and engaging citizens and community councils in environmental policy development and is inviting knowledgeable and passionate citizens to join the Environmental Working Group and provide leadership with strategic advice and recommendations. PCMNO were provided with Draft Terms of Reference and Expressions of Interest forms for citizens to join the Working Group.
Staff also presented an overview of current MNO environmental initiatives such as Water Monitoring Programs, Climate Change Forums, Community Council Partnership Projects, Métis Ecological Footprint Calculator, and more.
It was resolved that the PCMNO directs staff to issue the “Call for Expressions of Interest from Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens for the MNO Environmental Working Group.”
New Relationship Fund (NRF) Update
Linda Norheim, Director, Lands, Resources and Consultations (LRC)
Managed by Indigenous Affairs Ontario (IAO), the New Relationship Fund (NRF) is designed to help eligible First Nations and Métis communities participate in meaningful consultation and engagement with governments and the private sector on lands and resources matters. Since 2009, the NRF has helped the MNO provide core funding support for the engagement of MNO’s rights-bearing communities on lands and resources matters; and has traditionally supported staff and core operations of MNO’s LRC Branch.
Funding availability includes $85,000 per community that may be capable of holding Aboriginal or treaty rights under s.35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
It was resolved that the PCMNO directs the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Lands, Resources and Consultations staff to submit an application to Indigenous Affairs Ontario for New Relationship Funding on behalf of the MNO’s section 35 Métis communities in Regions 1-5 and 7, with a caveat that MNO will determine the allocation of funds at a future meeting.
Housing and Infrastructure Update
Joanne Meyer, MNO Chief Operating Officer, Cindi Rye, Director of Housing and Infrastructure and Amy Mersereau, Manager of Housing Initiatives
Following the signing of the Canada-Métis Nation Housing Sub Accord in 2019, the MNO has consistently identified housing as a priority in many of its communities across the province, and is committed to reducing the incidences of core housing needs and increasing homeownership and rental opportunities for MNO citizens.
In 2021, the MNO conducted a Housing Needs Assessment to identify and address the shortage of affordable housing for vulnerable MNO citizens. In a July 2021 PCMNO meeting, MNO Housing and Infrastructure branch presented PCMNO with existing and proposed housing related programs and services, as well as an MNO Housing Capital Investment Strategy, that would see real property investments made for the purpose of developing housing for MNO citizens over the next three (3) years in Regions which have been identified as having the most urgent housing needs.
Sault Ste Marie Housing Development Pilot Project
A previously passed resolution (PC211124-11) had approved the acquisition of land and pre-purchased units in Sault Ste. Marie. An affordable housing project has since been developed at 349 St. Patrick Street.
PCMNO reviewed the Housing and Infrastructure branch’s presentation on the Business Case; Rent Proposal for New Affordable Housing in Sault Ste. Marie; and Infinity Property Services (IPS) Tenant Application Process.
It was resolved that the PCMNO:
- Approve, in principle, the rental proposal for the Sault Ste. Marie Housing Development Project, developed by the MNO Housing and Infrastructure Branch which stipulates the affordable rental calculations as well as a plan to operationalize and afford the ongoing maintenance of these units.
- Authorize Infinity Property Services (IPS) to execute rental contracts on these units with priority be given to verified Métis citizens who can afford the rental costs, Métis seniors, Métis individuals fleeing domestic violence, Métis families with no security of tenure, or families in the process of reunification who cannot secure suitable housing will be prioritized over other Métis citizen applicants.