Renewed Métis National Council ushers in era of transparency and accountability

Left to right: MNBC President Lissa Dawn Smith, MNO President Margaret Froh, MNC President Cassidy Caron, MNA President Audrey Poitras, and MN-S President Glen McCallum

 After nearly three years of distraction and inaction at the national level, a special sitting of Métis National Council (MNC) General Assembly was held in Saskatoon, SK from September 29-30, 2021.

The court-ordered meeting saw the MNC Governing Members, the Métis governments of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, gather for the first time since 2018.

Among the key actions taken by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S) and Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) at the General Assembly were discussions and decisions confirming the status of the MNO within the MNC; and to at last, hold the long-overdue democratic election of a new MNC President.

Validating the position the MNO has consistently maintained regarding its status as a governing member, a motion was passed during the assembly that formally confirmed the MNC, and its former leadership, did not have the authority to suspend the MNO as a governing member. The motion affirmed the MNO in its continuing role as a governing member and set a path for a fair and unbiased process to establish a panel to be presented with further information about the work MNO has undertaken in relation to advancing and securing the recognition of Métis rights, interest and claims in Ontario.

“We are so pleased to be able to put this behind us and focus on issues that are important to our citizens,” said MNO President Margaret Froh. “Today’s affirmation demonstrates respect of the authority of MNC Governing Members and is an important reminder that we all share a common vision and goal of improving life for our Métis citizens and communities across the Nation.”

The special sitting of the General Assembly also saw a return of accountability, transparency, and democracy within the MNC, whose previous leadership had consistently declined to hold an election despite the expiry of the former President’s term – a blatant violation of MNC bylaws. The united actions of the four governing members demonstrated that such disrespect for democratic processes is intolerable, and, following the court-ordered mandate, an election for a new MNC President was held on September 30.

In a historic win, Cassidy Caron, British Columbia born with roots in Saskatchewan and a current resident of Ontario, was voted in as the new leader for the MNC. Caron is the first woman ever elected to the position of MNC President.

“These are very exciting times moving forward,” said 29 year-old President Caron. “It brings a lot of hope — electing the first woman President to the MNC. And as a young person, I hope to bring new fresh ideas and perspectives. But what today really means to me is that we’re bringing people together, and working together to create unity across the Métis Nation.”

The MNO, along with other MNC Governing Members, is extremely pleased to move ahead with new leadership, ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability. With a strong Métis woman as MNC President, we also look forward to a renewed emphasis on women’s needs, including actions taken concerning the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), healthcare, mental health, domestic violence, and many other issues facing Métis women and their families.

“We can now at last focus on the issues that matter most to Métis citizens across the Nation,” said MNO President Froh. “We are a collective whose role is to represent our Métis Governments at the national and international levels, and under this new leadership we will get back to work on the important issues.”

The MNO also acknowledged the significance of the date, September 30, as Orange Shirt Day and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada.

“This week we marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour the lives lost and communities hurt by the residential school system,” shared President Froh. “It seems fitting that we will move forward in a positive, respectful and collective manner to prioritize Indigenous rights, self-determination and self-governance.”

The MNO extends its congratulations to MNC President Cassidy Caron and the efforts of all who participated in the special sitting of the General Assembly, and making it happen at last. We look forward to more productive dialogue, and refreshed, renewed relationships among Métis Nation leadership.

On the eve of the assembly, Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) announced it was withdrawing from the MNC, and did not take part in the General Assembly. Unfortunately, this move will leave Manitoba Métis citizens without a voice at the national level.

Despite the departure of MMF, the MNC Governing Members remained committed to the democratic process, to accountability and transparency, to restoring unity amongst the members, and to using the advocacy organization as a platform to continue advancing the rights of Métis people at the national and international levels.