Métis Self-Government: The Time is Now
On June 27, 2019, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Government of Canada (Canada) signed the MNO-Canada Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (the “Self-Government Agreement”).
The signing of the Self-Government Agreement was an historic victory for Métis citizens and communities represented by the MNO. In the Self-Government Agreement, Canada recognizes — for the first time in history—that the Métis communities represented by the MNO hold the inherent right to self-government and self-determination.
The Self-Government Agreement also provides a clear path for the MNO to transform into a recognized public Indigenous government. After this transition, the new Métis Government will have recognized law-making powers in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal operations.
The Self-Government Agreement “locked in” these steps, so they cannot be swept away by changing political winds or circumstances. In this way, the Self-Government Agreement “sets the table” for the next steps that the MNO will take to implement the agreement. The very first step in this process will be extensive consultation and engagement with Métis citizens and communities on the Self-Government Agreement and the development of a Constitution. The time is now to be a part of this historic journey and continue the work of our Métis ancestors and leaders.
Get ready to join the conversation and help build our Métis government together.
Navigating the Self-Government Process:
With our core Self-Government Agreement in hand, the MNO is moving forward together to build a constitution and implement self-government. And we want to ensure that all MNO Citizens, regions and communities are engaged in that process in a way that makes sense for them.
Each of MNO’s 9 Regions draft and sign a Regional Implementation Agreement (RIA). The RIAs are customized to the unique needs and concerns of each Region. They also include common principles that ensure all voices will be heard and all MNO communities are properly supported.
Next, Regional Implementation Committees (RIC) will be formed with representation from each MNO community council in the Region. The RICs will develop work plans to build capacity and engage MNO Citizens within the Region, and address any unique concerns the region has when it comes to self-government.
As MNO communities and citizens work together to build our vision for the future, the Government of Canada will pass a new federal law (‘federal recognition legislation’) that recognizes and cements our Self-Government Agreement in Canadian law.
Community by community, all MNO citizens will be engaged to contribute their ideas, ask questions and, importantly, listen to one another. Through collaboration and consensus, we will build a Métis Government that is fair, worthy of respect, and true to our values.
With the contributions and ideas of all MNO citizens, and inspired by the values and traditions of our ancestors, a Constitution will be drafted.
We will build Métis Laws on citizenship, leadership selection and internal operations to provide a strong foundation for our Métis Government and future generations of Métis in Ontario.
With our Métis Laws in place and all other Self-Government Agreement requirements met, we will hold a province-wide referendum to approve our Constitution and the Self-Government Agreement. Once ratified by the Métis Citizens, we will move forward with Métis Self-Government in Ontario!
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Self-determination and self-government are inherent rights of all Indigenous peoples. Métis communities represented by the MNO have always possessed this inherent right and, as recognized in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose, have exercised this right to govern themselves based on the principles of democracy, freedom, fairness, equality, generosity, justice and the customary and written law of the Métis people.
Since long before Canada was founded, national and regional colonial governments have made policies, laws, and decisions that were based on a colonial and paternalistic approaches, and that marginalized the rights of Métis and other Indigenous people. Métis people in what is now Ontario have a deep history of organizing to plan, manage, and protect their communities; care and provide for one another; and assert their rights through letters, petitions, negotiations, and even armed resistance.
The MNO’s longstanding goal, as set out in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose, has been to establish nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationships with Canada and Ontario based on recognition and respect for the inherent right of Métis self-determination and self-government. The MNO has been advocating for this recognition of Métis self-government rights since its creation 28 years ago, as did Métis throughout Ontario long before MNO was established. The Self-Government Agreement is a momentous step forward for the MNO in achieving this recognition and respect for Métis rights.
Yes. The MNO is already a Métis government that is mandated by the Métis communities it represents based on their inherent right of self-government. Nothing in the Self-Government Agreement contradicts this. In fact, the Self-Government Agreement acknowledges that the MNO is authorized by the Métis communities it represents to implement their inherent right to self-government.
Despite the fact that the MNO has always been the governing body for the Métis communities in Ontario, because it was not recognized as such by other governments the MNO has needed to rely on a not-for-profit corporation as its legal and administrative arm in order to be able to receive funds, sign agreements, hire staff, etc. This not-for-profit structure has always been an awkward fit. The MNO’s goal, as recognized in the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose, has always been to be recognized as a public Indigenous government without relying on not-for-profit structures or corporate laws.
The Self-Government Agreement immediately recognizes that the Métis communities represented by the MNO have the inherent right of self-government, that the MNO is mandated to represent those Métis communities, and provides a clear path for the MNO to achieve this goal and transform from its current not-for-profit corporate form into a public Indigenous government that is recognized in federal law.
As of the signing of the Self-Government Agreement, Canada—for the first time—recognizes that the Métis communities represented by the MNO hold the inherent right to self-government, and that the MNO is authorized to implement that right on behalf of these communities. This kind of immediate recognition is unique among self-government agreements that Canada has negotiated with Indigenous nations. It is a momentous step forward for the MNO. The MNO has been advocating for this recognition since its creation 28 years ago, as did Métis throughout Ontario long before the MNO was established.
The Self-Government Agreement also provides a clear path for the MNO to transform into a recognized public Indigenous government. After this transition, the new Métis Government will have law-making powers in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal operations. Through the Self-Government Agreement, these steps are “locked in” and cannot be swept away by changing political winds or circumstances.
This is the first time that a self-government agreement has been signed with a Métis government in Canada.
- Development and ratification of a Métis Government Constitution through a province-wide referendum;
- Canada and the MNO negotiate a fiscal agreement, intergovernmental relations agreement, and transition plan;
- MNO develops and adopts core laws in the areas of citizenship, leadership selection, and internal government structure/operations; and
- Canada passes federal implementation legislation.
The MNO is beginning to plan an extensive, province-wide consultation, engagement, and education process on the Self-Government Agreement and the development of a Constitution for the future Métis Government. The Constitution will be the foundation for the new Métis Government. In order for the future Métis Government to be authentic and accountable, its Constitution must reflect the values, principles, and voices of the MNO’s citizens and communities. This Constitution is entirely in our hands to develop. All MNO citizens and communities throughout Ontario can be a part of this process as well there will be opportunities for future MNO citizens to be informed and provide input.
To ensure that every community and citizen has a meaningful opportunity be to heard in this process, the MNO is working with the MNO’s regional and community-level leadership to ensure that the consultation process will responsive to specific circumstances and concerns of all MNO communities and constituencies. This includes through negotiating Regional Implementation Agreements and workplans with each of the MNO’s 9 Regions that set out how regions may want to engage in supplemental consultation with their citizens, to enhance and build upon the MNO’s province-wide consultation process.
In addition, MNO is developing materials and processes that can ensure MNO citizens can be reached and provide input through a variety of methods. More information will be available on the consultation and engagement process in the coming months. Stay tuned to the MNO website and social media posts for further information! Not only will the MNO be consulting with communities and citizens, the Electors will have the opportunity to vote on the Self-Government Agreement and the Constitution in a ratification process. Electors are MNO citizens whose files meet the MNO’s current requirements for citizenship as set out in the MNO Bylaws and MNO Registry Policy.
No. In the Self-Government Agreement, Canada explicitly acknowledges Métis communities represented by the MNO have the inherent and constitutionally protected right to self-government. The Self-Government Agreement does not modify, take away, or extinguish any Métis rights whatsoever.
It does not change or remove any Métis rights but rather creates a process allowing the Métis communities represented by the MNO to fully exercise their right to self-government and self-determination.
The Self-Government Agreement protects the rights of Métis communities represented by the MNO, and the citizens of those communities, for generations to come. It provides the immediate recognition by Canada that the Métis communities represented by the MNO hold the inherent right to self-government, and that the MNO is authorized to implement that right on behalf of these communities. This is a momentous step forward for the MNO. The MNO has been advocating for this recognition since its creation 28 years ago, as did Métis throughout Ontario long before the MNO was established.
The Self-Government Agreement also sets the stage for further negotiations that could enable the Métis Government to assume law-making powers over a long list of other matters affecting our citizens and communities, including language, culture, education, housing, environment, and lands, among other things. The days of denial of Métis rights are behind us. The Self-Government Agreement gives us the legal means to regain control over matters directly affecting MNO citizens and ensure that the rights of Métis communities represented by the MNO are respected into the future.
The federal recognition legislation for the Self-Government Agreement will give Canada the legal tools it needs to fully recognize the MNO as a government with the power to make laws regarding citizenship, leadership and governmental operations. This legislation will also allow for ongoing negotiations to expand the Métis Government’s law-making powers in other areas that we know are important to Métis in Ontario including regarding our rights, language, culture, education, housing, environment, and lands, among other things.
Canada passes federal legislation for every self-government agreement that it concludes with an Indigenous government. This is not unique to the MNO. It’s not about signing away our rights. It is also not about “transferring” or “delegating” authority to the future Métis Government or about creating an Indian Act type style of legislation for Métis. This is about Canada making space in its laws for our self-government and self-determination – a struggle that our ancestors and our past leaders fought for time and time again.
Self-government is a right that Métis citizens hold together, as members of the rights-holding Métis communities they are a part of. The new Métis Government will be built by Métis citizens of all ages, working together to further build and strengthen our Métis government.
The MNO has learned a lot from past engagements about the values and key governance principles of MNO citizens through the MNO Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government and its engagement sessions held in 2017. Now, the MNO is planning a province-wide engagement process with the goal of consulting with MNO citizens on the Self-Government Agreement and developing the Constitution for the future Métis Government.
All MNO citizens can participate in the consultations on the Métis Government Constitution, and all Electors—including those who live in southern Ontario—will be able to vote in the ratification process for the Constitution and Self-Government Agreement. What that the future Métis Government looks like is up to all of us. We want to hear from you!
In the coming months, there will be many opportunities for all MNO citizens to get involved, offer ideas, listen to others, learn and think together. Stay tuned for information about how you can participate in MNO Town-Halls, workshops, and meetings and sign up for updates on the MNO’s self-government journey.
You can also provide comments, submit questions, videos or other information by writing to the MNO at Self.Government@metisnation.org.
Together, we will move forward with Métis Self-Government in Ontario!
- Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA)
- MNO-Canada-Ontario Framework Agreement for Advancing Reconciliation
- MNO-Canada MOU on Advancing Reconciliation
- Frequently Asked Questions about the MNO MGRSA
- MNO Timeline: Pre-Confederation to Self-Government
- Métis Government recognition in Ontario at Last: MGRSA information sheet
Other Self-Government Links
- MNO achieves federal recognition of its Self-Government (Jun 27, 2019)
- Video from MGRSA Signing Ceremony (Jun 27, 2019)
- MNO Self-Government Commission booklet (2017)
- FAQs about the MNO, MNA and MNS Tri-Council meetings
- First-Ever National Conference on Métis Self-Government concludes with a commitment to progress
- Video from the 2020 Otipemsiwak Conference
- Unity Through Negotiation: MNO Youth take part in Self-Government Simulation