Support for Consultations and Accommodations
OTTAWA – Indigenous News – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has expressed its support for First Nations in Ontario who are urging the Government of Canada to delay the implementation of the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Legislation. The aim is to allow for meaningful consultations and accommodations with First Nations regarding the agreement between the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and Canada.
Background on the Legislation
On February 24, 2023, the MNO and the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) announced the signing of the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Implementation Agreement. This agreement builds upon the previously signed Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement in 2019. If implemented, the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Legislation will codify the MNO’s claimed section 35 rights under the Constitution Act, 1982, pertaining to self-government. However, this legislation has significant implications for the constitutionally protected rights of First Nations in Ontario.
First Nations’ Concerns
AFN Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare emphasized that Canada has a fiduciary responsibility to consult with First Nations on legislation that may impact or encroach upon their Treaty rights. He stated that the development of the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Legislation lacked proper consultation with First Nations, leading to the rejection of the legislation in its current form. First Nations in Ontario have expressed concerns regarding the legitimacy, membership, and jurisdiction of the MNO and how the proposed legislation may affect their inherent and Treaty rights.
Call for Delay and Consultation
The Government of Canada is set to table the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Legislation on June 21, 2023. In response, AFN calls upon Canada to uphold its duty to First Nations and halt the unilateral decision-making approach without full consultation and accommodation. AFN demands an immediate delay in the implementation of the legislation to ensure that First Nations’ concerns are addressed through meaningful consultations.
Protecting Indigenous Rights
AFN recognizes and affirms support for the legitimate Métis rights within their historic territories. However, expediting legislation without proper consultation undermines the rights of First Nations across Canada and hinders the advancement of legitimate Métis rights holders. The timing of the legislation’s tabling on Indigenous People’s Day and the release of Canada’s Action Plan for implementing the UN Declaration raises concerns. Canada is urged to fulfill its legal duty to consult with First Nations and ensure alignment with the UN Declaration.
Similar Assertions Across Canada
First Nations leadership in Ontario passed a resolution in September 2022, urging the Government of Canada to refrain from recognizing the MNO as jurisdictional, inherent, and section 35 rights holders. Similar assertions challenging Métis claims are being made in other provinces and territories, including British Columbia, where the BC First Nations Leadership Council unanimously passed a resolution in June 2023 rejecting Métis assertions in the province.