Frequently Asked Questions about the MNO
Frequently Asked Questions
about the MNO Registry
In 1993, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was established through the will of Métis people and Métis communities coming together throughout Ontario to create a Métis-specific, democratic, province wide governance structure. The MNO represents and advocates 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.
Ontario is home to the 2003 Powley decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the existence of the Métis right to harvest for food that is protected by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982. MNO is a Métis government with governance structures at the provincial, regional and local level and delivers a wide range of programs and services to citizens and communities throughout Ontario. There are approximately 20,000 MNO citizens currently on the MNO’s registry. The MNO has been one of the governing members of the Métis National Council since 1994.
Q: If the MNO is no longer part of the Métis National Council (MNC) does that mean it is no longer a Métis government?
No, the MNO was a government for its Métis citizens in Ontario before it became one of the Governing Members of the MNC in 1994. The MNO’s relationship with MNC does not affect its role as a government for its Métis citizens and communities. This has been recognized both by the provincial and federal government. In 2015, Ontario passed the MNO Secretariat Act which recognized the unique nature of the MNO (See the video here). In 2019, the MNO and Canada signed the historic Métis Government Recognition and Self Government Agreement which recognizes the inherent right to self government held by the Métis communities represented by the MNO, and recognized that the MNO represents these Métis communities for the purposes of implementing that right (See the video here).
Q: If the MNO is no longer a part of the MNC, does that change the connection of Ontario citizens and communities to the Métis Nation?
No, it does not. The MNC is not the Métis Nation. The MNC is an advocacy body that gets its mandate from the Governing Members, one of which is the MNO. The Métis Nation extends into Ontario and MNO represents communities and citizens with historic ties to the Métis Nation. MNO’s ongoing involvement with the MNC or the potential reform, restructure or demise of MNC does not change this.
Q: What impact does the relationship with MNC have on my citizenship?
It has no impact at all. The MNC is not a Métis government. It is an advocacy body and has no registry and has no citizens. The legitimacy of MNO’s registry comes from the fact that it registers, represents and advocates on behalf of Section 35 rights holders in Ontario which includes representatives of the historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community recognized and affirmed in the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada Powley Decision (See the video here) as well as descendants of at least six other historic Métis communities, and from the broader Métis Nation.
Q: What impact does the relationship with MNC have on my harvesting rights?
It has no impact at all. The legitimacy of MNO’s harvester card registry comes from its application of its Harvesting Policy. The MNO issued Harvesters Cards to MNO citizens who can demonstrate that they are entitled to participate in collectively held harvesting rights within Ontario. When negotiations stalled on reaching a MNO-Ontario Agreement on Harvesting, MNO and its citizens had to take a firm stand to ensure there would be respect and recognition for the rights of Métis Harvesters in Ontario. (See the video here).
Ultimately, in 2004 the MNO and Ontario reached an Agreement on Harvesting which was one of the very first of any Métis government. Part of that 2004 Agreement was a commitment to independently review the MNO Harvester Card Registry. This occurred in 2018 and the MNO received a 100% score, demonstrating its objective legitimacy as a method of identifying harvesting rights-holders within Ontario. Ontario accepts MNO Harvesters Cards for this purpose as well under the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting, signed in April 2018.
Q: What about these statements from some within the MNC claiming that MNO is opening a door to an “Eastern invasion’? What is this about?
This is absurd and inflammatory and is a falsehood. The MNO is a Métis government that represents Section 35 Métis rights holders. MNO operates a citizenship registry that applies a rigorous Registry Policy requiring documented proof of Métis ancestry. An individual with ancestry from East of Ontario would not be eligible for MNO Citizenship
Q: What about these statements from some within the MNC claiming that MNO is a pan-aboriginal association. Is this true?
No, the MNO is a Métis government that was founded to advance the rights and interests of Métis as a people with distinct history, culture and way of life. The MNO is not a club or an organization that signs up anyone that self-identifies as Métis.
Q: We heard that Canadian Senator Beyak has claimed she is Métis with no connection to a recognized Métis community? What is this about?
The MNO, its Métis families and communities know the harm that is done by permitting myths and misconceptions to cloud and undermine the respect and recognition of Métis as a distinct Indigenous people. There are many individuals and associations that have assumed the term Métis in name only – that is not the MNO and has nothing to do with the MNO.
Q: What about the statement that the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) released about Senator Beyak that addresses her claim of Métis but then talks about MNO’s citizenship processes?
Attempting to connect the egregious actions of Senator Beyak with MNO in any way is offensive and unprincipled. The MNO has nothing whatsoever to do with Senator Beyak or her claims. She is not a citizen of the MNO.
Q: It seems that over the last several years the MNO has been under attack by some within the MNC, what is this all about?
Over the last 26 years the MNO has advanced Métis rights and recognition and has witnessed tremendous successes for its Métis families and communities in Ontario. MNO advanced and was successful in the very first Section 35 Métis Rights case in the Supreme Court of Canada with the Powley decision. MNO signed a Métis Government Recognition and Self Government Agreement in June 2019 alongside the governments of Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MNS). These agreements are the first of its kind ever in the history of Canada to recognize the inherent right of Métis self-government.
There are some within the MNC that are working to make MNO a convenient enemy for their interests. From their actions they appear to have no interest in facts or in listening and deliberating in a principled way. As is evident from what is going on in other parts of the globe politics is often reduced to divisive tactics that cantake precedence over the effort required to find common ground and build alliances. The impact of colonialism in Canada cannot be understated as this troubled history has served to complicate the relationships between Métis governments and also between Métis, First Nations and Inuit Peoples. In spite of this there are many historical and contemporary examples of MNO coming together to address collective interests and common goals (MNO-COO Protocol / National Matter Update / Michif Song / Tri-council Meeting)
The MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose was founded on the following principles:
- to ensure that Métis can exercise their Aboriginal and Treaty rights and freedoms and in so doing, act in a spirit of cooperation with other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people;
- to establish good relations and maintain our historic alliances with all Aboriginal peoples for the pursuit of our common interests and goals;
- to continue our affiliation with the Métis National Council for the representation of the interests of the Métis Nation in Ontario at the National and International levels;
- to gain the recognition and respect of the Métis as a Nation and a people
The MNO continues to be guided by the the Statement of Prime Purpose. As it has been widely reported the Governments of MNO, MNA and MNS remain united in a commitment to move forward together with self-government and rights-related discussions and negotiations with Canada to implement the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreements. MNO, MNA and MNS continue to call for greater accountability and reform of the MNC to address critical financial and governance issues. As always the MNO welcomes the opportunity to work together with every other governing member within the Métis National Council.
Other Relevant Links:
- The Facts: MNO Citizenship
- Information on MNC’s response to the Tri-council Meeting
- FAQ: Meeting of Métis Governments from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario (Tri-council Meeting)
- Métis Constitution or the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA)
Posted on February 8, 2020