Frequently Asked Questions about the MNO’s Citizenship and Registry System
Frequently Asked Questions about the MNO
Q: Who does the MNO represent?
The MNO was created to represent and advocate on behalf of its citizens who are rights-bearing members of Métis communities that collectively hold rights, interests, and outstanding claims protected by sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including, but not limited to, the right of self-government.
Q: Who can be a citizen under the MNO’s current Registry policy?
In order to receive MNO citizenship, an applicant to the MNO Registry must:
- Demonstrate a genealogical connection to a Métis Ancestor documented in the Historic Métis Nation Homeland (as shown/described in the MNO Registry Policy);
- Ensure each genealogical link in their lineage is supported by credible documents that meet the burden of proof;
- Provide a signed Oath of Allegiance, which serves as a declaration confirming that the applicant is not a member of ‘another aboriginal registry’;
- Applicants must also pay an application fee, provide a photo, and provide other administrative information in order to allow their file to be processed.
Q: I self-identify as Métis and my ancestors come from the historic northwest. Am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
Yes. You could be eligible for a MNO citizenship card if you choose to make an application to the MNO. You will need to provide proof of your ancestral connection to a Métis ancestor in the historic northwest. More information on the MNO’s application process and the requirements are available on the MNO’s Registry Page
Q: I self-identify as Métis and my Métis ancestors come from the historic Métis community recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in Powley decision. Am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
Yes. You could be eligible for a MNO citizenship card if you choose to make an application to the MNO. You will need to provide proof of your ancestral connection to a Métis ancestor who was part of the Sault Ste. Marie historic Métis community. More information on the MNO’s application process and the requirements are available on the MNO’s Registry Page.
Q: I self-identify as Métis and my ancestors come from one of the other six identified historic Métis communities in Ontario. Am I eligible for an MNO citizenship card?
Yes. You could be eligible for a MNO citizenship card if you choose to make an application to the MNO. You will need to provide proof of your ancestral connection to a Métis ancestor who was part of one of these historic Métis communities. More information on the MNO’s application process and the requirements are available on the MNO’s Registry Page.
Q: I have First Nations ancestry but am not eligible for Indian Status, am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
No. This does not make you eligible for a MNO citizenship card.
Q: I have mixed ancestry that comes from the East Coast. Am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
No. This does not make you eligible for a MNO citizenship card.
Q: I have mixed ancestry and my ancestors come from Quebec, am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
No. This does not make you eligible for a MNO citizenship card.
Q: I self-identify as Métis and my ancestors come from the Toronto area. Am I eligible for a MNO citizenship card?
No. This does not make you eligible for an MNO citizenship card.
Q: I understand that there are 6 identified historic Métis communities in Ontario, which are in addition to the historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community affirmed in the Powley decision. These historic Métis communities were jointly announced by MNO and Ontario in August 2017. How did the MNO and Ontario identify these communities?
These communities are not new they have been widely recognized in Ontario since before the MNO existed. The story of these communities goes back generations, but objective contemporary research was only able to be conducted more recently. Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Powley in 2003, rather than embark on costly litigation to use the courts to pursue the recognition of each Métis community in Ontario, the MNO worked with its legal counsel and Ontario to develop a process to jointly assess and commission evidence related to the possible existence of historic Métis communities in Ontario.
This evidence was organized based on a rigorous process and the test established in the Powley decision which requires: demographic evidence (census records and other historic documents); proof of shared customs and traditions; and proof of collective identity. This work was focused only on identifying potential historic Métis communities, not contemporary rights-bearing Métis communities. This collaborative process took more than five years to complete. During this time, the MNO and Ontario:
- Reviewed existing research
- Commissioned additional research
- Altogether, over 25 historic reports were extensively reviewed which were supported by thousands of historic documents
These reports are all available on the MNO’s website. All of these reports were prepared by independent professional historians and ethno-historians. Based on this collaborative review and focused on the guidance in Powley, MNO and Ontario were able to make joint conclusions as to where in Ontario historic Métis communities existed. These identified historic Métis communities do not cover all of Ontario. As expected, and as our members already knew, the evidence demonstrated that they were situated around the historic fur trade routes of the Great Lakes, other Ontario waterways and largely align with what has been referred to as the historic northwest.
Q: Is it true that all Métis Nation Governments were fully behind the MNO and the Powley family as the Powley case weaved its way successfully through every level of court until the eventual victory in the Supreme Court of Canada?
Yes, the Métis National Council and all its governing members (Métis Nation of Ontario, Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), Métis Nation Saskatchewan and the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) were fully behind the Powley family and the MNO before, during and after the decision came down. See the Métis National Council’s Update on National Matters October, 2019.
Q: Is it true that this was the first successful Section 35 Métis rights case anywhere in Canada?
Yes, Powley remains one of the most important Section 35 Métis rights decisions. The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed in Powley—consistent with the submissions of the MNO—that: The term “Métis” in s. 35 does not encompass all individuals with mixed Indian and European heritage; rather,it refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, way of life, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears. The Courtestablished a test for demonstrating the existence of a historic Métis community. The decision in Powley resulted in tremendous benefits for the Métis Nation and all Métis Nation Governments.
Q: Is it true that Métis National Council President Clem Chartier was co-counsel on the Métis National Council’s intervention in support of the Powley Case?
Yes. In its factum, the Métis National Council made evidence based arguments that the Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community is part of the Métis Nation, that this community stood up in the Mica Bay Uprising to assert its distinct identity as Métis and defend and protect their rights as other communities had, and that this community is one of the oldest and well-recognized Métis communities in Canada.
The following are but a few of the direct quotations from that factum:
“The Métis community at Sault Ste. Marie is a part of the Métis Nation. The RCAP Report recognized it as one of the oldest within Canada (RCAP Report, Métis Perspectives (AAR, Vol. III, Tab 41 at p. 303, 314, 340-342)”
“The Respondents (Steve and Rod Powley) are members of the MNO”.
“The Métis Nation’s self-realization of its existence as a people is confirmed throughout the historic record. The assertion of this distinctiveness crystallized in well-known events like the Battle of Seven Oaks, the Sayer Trial, the Red River Resistance, the Mica Bay Uprising, inclusion within Treaty #3 and the Battle of Batoche. The Intervener submits that these types of collective acts distinguish the Métis people from the Appellant’s analysis of the Métis as just individuals with mixed heritage.”
“The Intervener agrees with the conclusions of the RCAP Report that the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community is one of the oldest and well-recognized Métis communities within Canada. Dr. Ray described the community as ” … a strategic spot on the east/west flow of people across the Upper Lakes area and so as the fur-trade is pushing westward, Sault Ste. Marie was strategically important.” Dr. Ray also testified that the community was regarded as “home base” for many families who moved throughout the Métis Nation as part of the back and forth movement of the fur trade. The flow between the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community and the west (i.e. Red River) was on-going. The Intervener submits these factors demonstrate the Sault Ste. Marie community’s connection to the territory, existence and history of the Métis Nation. (RCAP Report, Métis Perspectives (AAR, Vol. III, Tab 41 at p. 303, 314, 340-342); Testimony of Dr. Ray, Trial Transcripts, Vol. II (RAR, Vol. I, Tab 5 at pp. 80, 143)”
Q: Is it true that because of the Powley decision the Government of Canada provided funding, (known as Post-Powley funding) for all Métis Nation Governments to work on developing objectively verifiable registry systems?
Yes. In addition to the funding the MNO received there was work done by all Métis Nation Governments, together with Canada and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group to establish a set of registry standards for the operation of Métis Nation Registries intended to ensure the integrity of the processes employed by the Métis Nation Registries. The CSA standards have been utilized to review and assess each Métis Nation government’s Registry. MNO’s registry was audited based upon these standards by an independent third party called BDO in November 2017. BDO’s report states:
“In summary, the current MNO registry application process as it presently operates reflects the Powley decision, demonstrates objective verification for citizenship and is maintained with care and in a professional manner.”
Q: The Métis National Council President claims that the MNO has never applied the Métis National Council definition. Is that true?
No, the MNO adopted the Métis National Council’s National Definition—as one of the governing members of the Métis National Council in 2004. During the 2004 MNO Assembly MNO citizens approved by consensus the following: “Métis means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry, and is accepted by the Métis Nation.” The MNO subsequently developed guidelines and a registry policy to guide its application in Ontario. Click here to read more about the MNO Registry Policy. The MNO’s Registry, like all the other Métis Nation Governments have undertaken considerable work to strengthen their internal systems and to develop policies to get the Registry systems to where they are today.
Q: The Métis National Council President claims the MNO is expanding the boundaries of the historic Métis Nation homeland. What does this mean?
Prior to the Métis National Council Assembly in November 2018 where a map was adopted that outlines the boundaries of the historic Métis Nation Homeland, there were no hard borders. There have been many discussions at Métis National Council Assemblies about the varying definitions of the “historic northwest” (which is the Métis Nation Homeland) and the historic homeland boundary. It had been consistently accepted that the historic northwest extended into parts of Ontario. During the Métis National Council Assembly in 2013 the Assembly adopted a definition of the historic northwest that extended into Ontario and aligned with MNO’s Registry Policy.
The Métis National Council’s President’s position appeared to change in November 2018 with the adoption of the “new” historic homeland map. This map was introduced during the 2018 Métis National Council Assembly with very little time for discussion or debate. It was not clear what, if any research had been conducted to produce this new map. This new map had shrunk considerably from previous versions that had been reviewed and adopted at past Métis National Council Assemblies.
Q: The Métis National Council President has claimed the MNO is trying to undermine the Métis Nation, is that true?
No. The MNO represents citizens and communities that are part of the Métis Nation as well as regional rights-bearing Métis communities in certain parts of Ontario. The MNO has been working alongside every other Métis Nation government since 1994 to advance the collective rights, interests and priorities of the Métis Nation and rights-bearing Métis citizens and communities. One of the guiding principles of the MNO, as set out in the MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose, is “gaining respect and recognition of the Métis Nation.” The Statement of Prime Purpose is the MNO’s foundational document and underlies everything the MNO does. In Métis National Council Assemblies, the MNO has made it clear that it respects and recognizes the right of the Métis Nation to determine its historic boundaries, to determine who belongs and to determine and define its contemporary political relationships.
The MNO has made repeated efforts to engage in constructive deliberations with the Métis National Council about its contemporary political relationship with MNO. The MNO has made repeated efforts to engage in constructive deliberations with the Métis National Council and all other Métis Nation Governments about its citizenship systems as was done quite productively during the Tri-Council meeting of the Governments of Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and Métis Nation Saskatchewan (MNS) in Edmonton.
Q: The Métis National Council President has claimed that MNO’s Registry system will result in the “swamping of the Métis Nation by non-Métis people from Eastern Canada”. Is this true?
No. This is completely absurd. A non-Métis person from Eastern Canada would NOT be eligible for a MNO citizenship card. The MNO only issues citizenship cards to applicants who can demonstrate that they have a genealogical connection to a Métis ancestor who is from the historic Métis Nation Homeland. This Homeland does not include Eastern Canada.
Q: What about the issue of some of the Métis communities in Ontario being outside the recently adopted Métis Nation homeland map by the Métis National Council?
This new map was produced with no meaningful consultation with the Métis Nation Governments and was simply presented at the November 2018 Assembly for review and adoption. The Sault Ste. Marie historic Métis community whose rights were affirmed in the Powley decision as existing and protected under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution is outside the recently adopted Métis Nation homeland map. At one time, all of the Métis National Council recognized and acknowledged Sault Ste. Marie as part of the Métis Nation homeland, see Update on National Matters (October, 2019). In fact, the Métis National Council’s previously accepted map of the “historic northwest” included this community within its boundaries.
Whether or not the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community and others may now be deemed by certain individuals, such as the President of the Métis National Council, to be outside the boundaries of the recently adopted historic homeland map, the fact remains there is no hierarchy of Métis rights in Canada and that rights are held by regional Métis communities who meet the criteria of the Powley test. It is worth noting that the Métis National Council does not, itself, represent rights-bearing Métis communities. The Métis National Council has no Registry and no citizens. The Métis National Council is a way for Métis Governments—who represent rights-bearing Métis communities—to come together to work on common issues.
Q: President Chartier of the Métis National Council claims MNO’s “communities are not, have never been, and can never be a part of our Métis Nation’s history and Homeland”. How can this be true given what he argued in the Courts in Powley?
The position of President Chartier and a few others within the Métis National Council appear to have changed recently on this issue, specifically with respect to the Sault Ste. Marie historic Métis Community. Regardless, these communities are Métis. There is no hierarchy of Métis rights between the “Métis Nation” and regional rights-bearing Métis communities that may be outside of the Métis Nation’s boundaries. It would be much more constructive if MNO and the Métis National Council could engage in informed deliberations about its past, present and future political relationship: a relationship that at one time was rooted in mutual respect and recognition.
To now see the Métis National Council President resorting to the outright dismissal of the MNO, purporting to suspend the MNO and denying the legitimacy of its rights bearing communities is unprincipled, offensive and unproductive. The MNO welcomes constructive government-to-government dialogue and relationships with every other Métis Nation government as occurred very successfully during the Tri-Council Meeting of the Métis Governments of MNO, MNA and MNS.
Q: The Métis National Council President has talked about the MNO grandfathering its citizens. What does that mean, and is that true?
Grandfathering is a term that refers to a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. The MNO never formally adopted a resolution on “grandfathering” citizens that may have received citizenship before the 2004 Métis National Council definition was adopted. There is however no provision in the MNO bylaws to remove citizenship based upon whether a citizens file is complete or not.
Q: Has the MNO ever conducted a review of all the citizenship files in its registry?
Yes, in October 2017 as part of the MNO’s preparation for self-government, the MNO launched a review of every single MNO citizenship file (the “Registry Review”). Citizens with complete files (those that were found to meet the MNO’s current citizen requirements) were issued a new citizenship card identifying them as a Section 35 rights holder.
Q: What are the overall results of the Registry Review?
As of January 16th, 2020, it has been confirmed by the MNO Registry that 74% of the approximate 20,000 citizenship files are Section 35 rights holders and meet the MNO’s definition of citizenship.
Q: What about those with incomplete files? What happens to their citizenship?
They remain MNO citizens, as there is currently no provision in the MNO bylaws to remove citizenship for having an incomplete file. The next steps will be determined by MNO citizens at a future MNO assembly. However, unless these citizens complete their files, they are not able to run for elected office in the MNO, nor can they vote on the ratification of a future Métis Constitution or the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA). They will also not be citizens of the future Métis Government unless they can meet the criteria set out in the future Citizenship Law. There is more information about the MGRSA here.
Q: Is it possible that someone with an incomplete file may be able to complete their file?
Yes, it is possible if the citizen provides the required documentation to meet the MNO’s citizenship criteria.
Q: Are there some in the Registry that will never be able to complete their file?
Yes, there are a small percentage of citizens that received their card at a time when the MNO’s citizenship criteria only required proof of Aboriginal ancestry or when the Registry did not have a defined policy or the capacity to administer the MNO’s requirements with the rigor and credibility it does now. Citizens with an incomplete file cannot run for elected office in the MNO, nor can they vote on the ratification of a future Métis Constitution or the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA). They will also not be citizens of the future Métis Government unless they can meet the criteria set out in the future Citizenship Law.
Q: Could someone that may never be able to complete their file be elected into a position of leadership within the MNO?
No, MNO’s governance documents maintain that you must be Métis (your file must be complete) to be eligible to be democratically elected to a leadership position. MNO adopted an updated policy on ‘Verification of Candidates for Holding Elected Office in MNO’ in February 2018 that ensures that in order to run in MNO’s democratic elections a citizen must be verified by the registrar as meeting the MNO’s current definition of citizenship.
Citizens with an incomplete file cannot run for elected office in the MNO, nor can they vote on the ratification of a future Métis Constitution or the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA). They will also not be citizens of the future Métis Government unless they can meet the criteria set out in the future Citizenship Law. For more information see the MGRSA FAQ.
Q: Has the MNO ever conducted other reviews of its registry?
Yes. In 2017, an independent third party conducted a review of a representative sample of MNO Harvester Card (called the “Independent Review”). In preparation for the ‘Independent Review’ of all Harvester Cards MNO reviewed every single file to determine whether it was complete or not. The MNO received 100% in the Independent Review, as explained further below. At the 2012 MNO Annual General Assembly citizens passed by consensus resolution AGA-RES2012-003. The resolution provided harvesters with incomplete files 12 months to complete their files, those that could not complete their file in that timeframe had their Harvester Cards removed.
Q: What was involved in the Independent Review of all MNO Harvesters?
One of the terms of 2004 MNO-Ontario Harvesting Agreement was to conduct an Independent Review. The Harvesting Agreement also included a cap of 1250 on the number of Harvesting Cards that could be issued. In order to remove the cap on the number of Métis Harvesters in Ontario an Independent review was required to verify that MNO had an objectively verifiable system consistent with Powley for the identification of Section 35 rights holders with harvesting rights in Ontario. Following the work of MNO and Ontario to jointly identify the historic Métis communities the next question was to determine, objectively and independently, whether the MNO’s Harvester Card Holders ancestrally connected to the families that made up the Historic Métis Communities (more information on the Métis Root Ancestors here).To do this, the MNO researched and developed Métis Root Ancestor packages, more of which are still in development.
The MNO and Ontario agreed on a process whereby an independent third party with expertise in genealogy would:
- assess all of the Métis Root Ancestor research to ensure that it met certain agreed-to requirements. These requirements included being documented in a historic record as Métis and being present within the Historic Métis Community prior to the date of effective control; and
- conduct an audit of a representative sample of MNO Harvester Cards, from across all of the MNO’s Traditional Harvesting Territories, to ensure that all MNO Harvester Cards connected to a verified Métis Root Ancestor in the Traditional Harvesting Territory for which the Card was issued.
Q: What were the results of the Independent Review of the MNO Harvester Card system?
The results of the Independent Review of MNO’s Harvester Card system were overwhelmingly positive. The MNO received a perfect score:
- 100% of the Root Ancestors were verified
- 100% of the MNO Harvester Cards were also verified as ancestrally connecting a Métis Root Ancestor in the proper Traditional Harvesting Territory
The independent third party released a report that detailed its methodology and the results of the review of the Root Ancestors and MNO Harvesters Card, are available here. And, in May 2018 – the MNO and Ontario signed the Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting a copy can be found here in which the cap on the number of Harvesters Cards the MNO can issue is removed.
Q: The Métis National Council President claims that the MNO has refused to open its citizen files for review, is that true?
No, as just explained in great detail the MNO’s citizenship and harvester card files have been through more than one independent and objective review process and it has consistently been found that MNO operates a credible and objectively verifiable Registry. The MNO was however not willing to permit the MNC to establish a process that would permit unfettered access to individual citizenship files. The attacks on the MNO over the last several years by the MNC President and some others within the MNC have been relentless and the MNO was under no illusion that this would in any way be an independent or an objective process. The MNO has made repeated efforts to engage in constructive deliberations with the Métis National Council and all Métis Nation Governments about its citizenship systems as was done quite productively during the Tri-Council meeting of the Governments of Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and Métis Nation Saskatchewan (MNS) in Edmonton.
Q: How does MNO’s Registry operate in 2020?
In May 2019, the MNO restructured its overall Registry operations so that all registry functions including processing citizenship applications, Harvester applications and renewals would be provided by an independent third-party organization with extensive expertise in Métis genealogy, Know History Inc. While the MNO maintains ownership of the Registry, Know History Inc. assumed the day to day management with a strategic focus on ensuring timely communications and application processing as well as strengthening operating procedures, policies and systems. The Registry currently operates with:
- One MNO Registrar with an extensive background in genealogical research and quality assurance, a Master’s degree in History and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (CSPT), and a BA with majors in both English and History from the University of Victoria.
- Six full-time client advocates who answer phones, process inventory, and return calls to citizens, applicants, harvesters and others within five business days.
- One client service manager that ensures staff are following guidelines and meeting timelines and providing prompt follow up.
- Nine genealogists that check administrative and supporting documents attached to Citizen and Harvester Applications, review additional documents sent to the MNO Registry for reconsideration, undertake research, and advise whether citizen or harvester files are complete, incomplete or missing documentation.
- Two digital historians that provide council lists, database support, and statistics for the MNO.
- Two administrative staff that process personal information updates, scan mail, manage documents, and ensure letters are sent to clients on time.
- A state-of-the-art database that is able to make linkages to ancestors and familial connections
- The Facts: About the MNO
- Information on MNC’s response to the Tri-council Meeting
- Frequently Asked Questions: Meeting of Métis Governments from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario
- Métis Constitution or the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA)
Posted: January 29, 2020
Updated: March 6, 2020