NORTH BAY – On Monday, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) concluded the largest Annual General Assembly (AGA) in its 23 year history. Over 600 MNO leaders, citizens and partners from across Ontario gathered in North Bay to attend the three-day event. Throughout the weekend, citizens discussed how the MNO is moving toward reconciliation with Canada and Ontario. Recent developments, including the Daniels v. CanadaSupreme Court of Canada decision affirming federal jurisdiction for the Métis, and the release of the Isaac Report on Section 35 Métis Rights under The Constitution Act, 1982, are advancing the long-held goal of Métis self-government in Ontario.
“The MNO shines in the Isaac Report,” stated President Froh in regard to the report entitled A Matter of National Constitutional Import by Special Ministerial Representative, Tom Isaac. “Mr. Isaac laid out a path towards reconciliation with the Métis.”
Speaking at the AGA, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the Honourable David Zimmer, provincial Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, both positively referenced the Isaac Report, the Daniels decision and the strength of the MNO.
In her remarks, Minister Bennett indicated that her ministerial mandate letter had stressed rights, cooperation and partnership and stressed that the federal government’s approach to partnership is based on a “relationship of equals.” Minister Bennett described the MNO as “a responsible and accomplished partner.” She concluded her remarks by saying: “The current is with us – we can complete the unfinished business of Confederation.”
In referring to the Daniels decision, Minister Zimmer stated that “the timing is exquisite.” He pointed out that the provincial government had already committed $250 million dollars for its reconciliation strategy that includes Ontario Métis. He explained that “these issues [Métis rights] are now on the public mind and, when they are on the public mind, they tend to happen.”
“The stars are aligned for the Metis Nation of Ontario”, stated President Froh. “As we work with Ontario and Canada toward reconciliation, we need to consult with our citizens across the province on issues related to Metis rights and self-government.”
President Froh launched the MNO Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government. Seven commissioners will tour all MNO communities in Ontario starting in the late fall and finishing in late spring 2017.
Feeding the optimism at the AGA was the presence of a very large Métis youth contingent. Over 70 young Métis citizens participated, many of whom are part of MNO programs that promote Métis culture in their communities and in postsecondary institutions. “Our youth are amazing,” said President Froh, “they bring a vitality and energy that enriches everything we do. All of our citizens, and especially our youth, will play a vital role in informing how the Métis Nation of Ontario moves forward with this long awaited work of reconciliation.”