OTTAWA – Today, in a special ceremony held near Parliament Hill, history was made with the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) and the Government of Canada signing a ground-breaking Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (“Agreement”) that sets a new government-to-government relationship between Canada and Ontario Métis.
MNO President Margaret Froh, the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed the Agreement. They were also joined by other Métis leaders, youth and Elders from Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta with the Métis Nation of Alberta and Métis Nation-Saskatchewan signing similar agreements. These are the first Métis self-government agreements in Canada.
The Agreement provides the MNO with long-sought-after federal recognition of its self-government by immediately recognizing that the Métis communities represented by the MNO have the right of self-government. This upfront rights recognition is unique among self-government agreements that Canada has negotiated with other Indigenous communities.
The Agreement also recognizes Métis jurisdiction and law-making power in the core self-government areas such as citizenship, leadership selection and internal operations, and sets out next steps for the MNO to transition from its current corporate form to an Indigenous government recognized in Canadian law. These next steps include:
- the development and ratification of a constitution through a province-wide referendum;
- the negotiation of fiscal and intergovernmental implementation agreements;
- the development of a transition plan; and
- the passage of federal implementation legislation.
“This self-government agreement is a testament to the strength and determination of the MNO’s citizens and communities. From the MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose that was first adopted in 1993, the recognition of Métis rights and self-government here in Ontario has been fundamental to the MNO’s purpose, decision-making and successes,” said MNO President Froh.
President Froh added, “From our pursuit of Métis rights all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley in 2003 to the passage of the MNO Act by the Ontario legislature in 2015, our citizens and communities have always been united in wanting to protect and preserve our unique history, culture and identity for generations to come. With this agreement, we have secured a way forward to do just that.”
President Froh specifically acknowledged the work and efforts of Métis citizens and leadership at the local and regional levels for being the backbone of the MNO’s self-government as well as the Provisional Council and the MNO’s negotiating team. She also acknowledged former MNO Presidents Tony Belcourt and Gary Lipinski for their unwavering commitment to Métis rights and self-government. “This has been a team effort from beginning to end,” said Froh.
“Ontario Métis working together is what the MNO has always been about over the last 26 years. Our journey to get here has not been easy, but we stayed strong and focused on where we wanted to go and that the MNO is grounded on Métis rights and self-government,” reflected MNO Chair France Picotte.
Picotte concluded, “While today we celebrate, our work is far from over. We must once again come together to develop a constitution that is anchored on Métis rights to solidify our self-government for future generations. This next step is now rightfully in our hands and it will be up to all us here in Ontario to keep moving this forward.”