Ottawa, ON – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) stands in solidarity with First Nations in Ontario, advocating for a delay in the execution of the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Legislation. This appeal is directed towards the Canadian Government and concerns an ongoing agreement with the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). The AFN insists that this legislation should not be enacted without comprehensive consultations and accommodations with First Nations.
Landmark Agreement Faces Opposition
The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the Ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) announced on February 24, 2023, that they had finalized the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Implementation Agreement. This pact builds on a previously signed arrangement in 2019, and its execution would significantly affect First Nations’ constitutionally protected rights in Ontario.
The proposed legislation, if implemented, would legally endorse the MNO’s self-proclaimed Section 35 rights under the Constitution Act, 1982, to self-governance.
AFN Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare stressed that the Canadian Government has a fiduciary obligation to discuss with First Nations any legislation that could influence or infringe on First Nations Treaty rights. Hare voiced concerns about the legislation’s legitimacy, membership, and jurisdiction and its potential effects on inherent and Treaty rights, stating, “First Nations in Ontario reject the Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Legislation in its current form.”
A Call for Inclusive Decision-Making
The Canadian Government is anticipated to introduce the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Legislation on June 21, 2023, intended to acknowledge the MNO’s authority over citizenship, elections, and governance administration. This date coincides with Indigenous People’s Day, which raises additional concerns about the legislation’s timing.
Chief Hare emphasizes the necessity for the government to honor its responsibility to First Nations and abstain from one-sided decision-making without thorough consultation and accommodation of First Nations. He urges the Canadian Government to postpone the legislation’s implementation until all First Nations’ concerns are addressed.
Potential Impact on Indigenous Rights
The AFN acknowledges and upholds the Indigenous rights of legitimate Métis in Canada and supports the promotion of their rights within their historical territories. However, the decision to fast-track legislation recognizing MNO self-governing rights without sufficient consultation could infringe upon the rights of First Nations across Canada. This could also hamper the advancement of legitimate Métis rights holders.
In September 2022, Ontario’s First Nations Leadership demanded the Canadian Government abstain from actions that unlawfully recognize the MNO as jurisdictional, inherent, and Section 35 rights holders. This includes the introduction of any legislation to implement the Self-Government Agreement or otherwise recognize the MNO as having Section 35 rights. Other provinces and territories are also witnessing similar claims on First Nations lands, including the BC First Nations Leadership Council, led by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), which unanimously passed a resolution rejecting Métis assertions in British Columbia in June 2023.
Grand Council Treaty #3 insists that the Metis Self-Government Legislation is a breach of Treaty #3 and a mistake that will harm the Anishinaabe for generations to come
Grand Council Treaty #3 denounces the federal government’s decision to table Metis self-government legislation without consulting or seeking the consent of the Anishinaabe Nation of Treaty #3, despite the legislation’s potential to threaten the integrity of Treaty #3.
In a statement, Grand Council Treaty # 3 asserts, “Minister Miller and the Government of Canada have not done their due diligence. In their haste to appear progressive on “Indigenous rights” they are trying to rush through legislation that would rewrite the constitutional history of Canada and that threatens to rewrite the history of Treaty #3.
“This is unacceptable; it is the opposite of honourable, and is not in meeting the Honour of the Crown. Treaty #3 is sacred. It was entered into between the Anishinaabe Nation of the Boundary Waters and the Queen 150 years ago, in the presence of the Creator. Grand Council Treaty #3 is calling on its treaty partner to cease any and all actions relating to Metis claims to Treaty #3 and within the 55,000 square miles of Treaty #3 until a process is in place between the Crown and the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 to jointly assess such claims”.