July 19, 2018
Dear MNO Citizens,
RE: Update on Registry and Self-Government Readiness Process (RSRP)
These are exciting times for the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”). The MNO’s focus on the advancement of Métis rights and self-government over the last 25 years has led to the signing of the historic MNO-Canada-Ontario Framework Agreement on Advancing Reconciliation and MNO-Canada Agreement on Advancing Reconciliation with the Northwestern Ontario Métis Community in December 2017 as well as the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting in April 2018. In addition, in May 2018 the MNO released the final summary of the findings of the MNO Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government. We also look forward to further discussion and engagement on Métis rights and self-government at the upcoming Annual General Assembly in Peterborough.
Our MNO-Canada-OntarioFramework Agreement on Advancing Reconciliation begins a formal negotiations process with Canada to have Métis self-government in Ontario recognized on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government basis. This achievement is historic for so many reasons, and now that the time has finally come we need to keep moving forward.
The Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting recognizes our MNO-created Harvesters Policy and removes the 2004 “cap” on the number of Harvesters Cards. The independent review of MNO Harvesters Card system was a resounding success that affirmed the strength of our system and allowed us to negotiate removal of the “cap”.
MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose has focused us on advancing the rights and recognition of Métis people in Ontario over the past 25 years and has grounded all our important decisions. The credibility and integrity of the MNO Registry and Harvesters Card systems have been fundamental to MNO’s ability to secure both of these important agreements.
As you should have already heard, in preparation for these upcoming historic negotiations the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (“PCMNO”) initiated the “Registry and Self-Government Readiness Process” or the “RSRP” in October 2017. The RSRP includes a review of all existing MNO citizenship files to determine if these files meet the MNO’s current requirements for citizenship as set out in the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy. The Métis right to self-government as well as other Métis rights are collectively held by Métis rights-holders. It is these Métis rights-holders, along with the rights-bearing Métis communities they come from, that must be effectively represented in our negotiations.
Since 2004, the MNO’s definition of “Métis” has required proof of Métis ancestry, not just mixed Aboriginal ancestry. Métis rights are held by those individuals who descend from historic Métis communities in Ontario or other parts of the Métis Nation Homeland (e.g., from Ontario westward). Métis rights are not held by individuals with a distant Aboriginal ancestor.
Prior to 2004, the MNO’s definition of Métis allowed for individuals with any mixed Aboriginal ancestry to be registered. In its early days, the MNO did not have the funding or capacity to properly assess and ensure MNO citizenship files were complete. Prior to 2009, the MNO Registrar had absolute discretion over what citizenship files were approved. This changed in 2009 when the MNO Registry Policy was adopted by the MNO Annual General Assembly. Over 50% of the MNO’s current citizens (approximately 10,000 individuals) joined the MNO since the adoption of the MNO Registry Policy. The MNO fully expects that the majority of MNO citizens who were registered before 2009 will also meet the MNO’s current citizenship requirements.
Click here for the Progress Report on the RSRP that clearly shows that, of the files reviewed to date, the vast majority of assessed files—77% of all citizenship files—are meeting the current requirements for MNO citizenship set out in the MNO Bylaws and Registry Policy.
The RSRP is providing the MNO with important data about its citizenship, which is required for negotiations and for securing additional benefits for Métis rights holders. One of the first questions we will be asked in negotiations for self-government is “who does the MNO represent”? The RSRP is providing clarity and certainty as we move forward in self-government and advancement of rights negotiations with Canada and Ontario, but to be clear, we will never allow other governments to tell us who the Métis are.
If you would like more information on the RSRP or the MNO’s negotiations with Canada and Ontario, please visit the MNO’s website at www.metisnation.org and visit the Path to Self-Government section. Feel free to reach out the PCMNO, your local leadership or MNO’s Senior Staff — your questions are welcome and encouraged.
We will continue to share further information about these important developments over the coming months as we move forward on our path to Métis Self-Government.
Yours very truly,
The Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario