OTTAWA – At its 20th Annual General Meeting (AGA) in Ottawa this weekend, over 300 Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) leaders and citizens from across the province unanimously passed an economic development Law. MNO President Gary Lipinski predicted that the law would soon prove to be a significant landmark in Métis history along with other watersheds such as the 2003 R. v. Powley Supreme Court decision and the 2008 MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement.
“I am very proud of all you,” Lipinski told the Assembly, “by working together we have realized the vision and the dreams of the MNO founders who outlined economic self-sufficiency as one of our key objectives in our Statement of Prime Purpose.” The Law moves the MNO towards its long-term goal of self-government by establishing the structure that will permit the MNO to capitalize on emerging opportunities in a number of fields. The Law comes on the heels of the announcement on August 22, that the MNO along with its investment partners won several bids on green energy contracts through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) Small Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. “It is this kind of success,” stated Lipinski, “that will allow us to build a better and brighter future for our young people.”
The AGA concluded today after three days of deliberations on key topics impacting Métis in Ontario. The Assembly heard from Métis rights lawyers Jean Teillet and Jason Madden who reported on implications of recent Métis law cases including the recent Manitoba Metis Federation Supreme Court victory and Daniels case, which while received favourably at the Federal Court has been appealed by the federal government.
MNO citizens also heard on the MNO’s ongoing work improving opportunities for Métis children and youth. The MNO operates numerous programs that provide educational support, employment training as well as other programs that help parents and caregivers provide their children with healthy lifestyles. President Lipinski challenged all MNO citizens to encourage and support young people in believing in themselves so they would seize every possible opportunity. “This is an area where we can all play a role,” explained President Lipinski, “by providing support, especially those not getting support, we can help Métis youth become all they can be.”
The AGA also recognized the 20th anniversary of the founding of the MNO in 1993 and the 10th anniversary of the historic Powley Supreme Court decision, which affirmed Métis harvesting rights for the first time. Appropriately, during the AGA, Senator Brenda Powley, the widow of Steve Powley, received the 2013 Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year. The MNO also recognized 100 year old World War II veteran Alexander Boucher by presenting him with the Louis Riel Medal and Certificate.
The AGA also featured numerous cultural events and performances including the world premiere of a documentary film on the history of the MNO, a performance of “Soldiers in Capotes” by the renowned Métis Fiddler Quartet and a dramatic reading by award-winning Métis author Joseph Boyden as well as numerous performances and workshops by Métis artists and craftspeople. Delegates enjoyed an afternoon at Victoria Island where they participated in the Métis Voyageur Games, a series of athletic competitions based on the historic activities of their Métis ancestors. Afterwards, the delegates were treated a feast served by the three local host Councils, the Ottawa, High Land Waters and Peterborough Wapeti Métis Councils.
Major sponsors of the AGA were: Collins Barrow; Rubicon Minerals Corporation; Bruce Power; Hydro One; the Abitibi/Temiscamingue & James Bay Consultation Committee; Toronto-Dominion; Union Gas; Xeneca; Royal Bank; Premier Gold Mines; Cliffs; Gold Canyon Resources; Osisko; OPG Deep Geologic Repository Project; Detour Gold, Calliou Group; Glencore Canada; Great Lakes Power Transmission, TransCanada; Great White North Technology Consulting; and Bytown Travel.