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The MNO leadership and senior staff with representatives from all three political
parties after the passage of the MNO Secretariat Act on December 9, 2015.
Left to right: MNO Associate Chief Operating Officer Margaret Froh, Minister of
Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer (Liberal), MPP Gilles Bisson (NDP), MNO
President Gary Lipinski, Speaker Dave Levac (Liberal), MNO Chair France
Picotte, MPP France G¨¦linas (NDP), MPP John Vanthof (NDP) and Leader of
the Progressive Conservative Party Patrick Brown.
December 9, 2015 (Toronto, ON) Today, M¨¦tis citizens and communities throughout Ontario celebrated the passage of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act, 2015 (the ¡°MNO Act¡±) by the Ontario legislature with the unanimous consent of the Ontario government and all opposition parties.
¡°This is truly a historic day for Ontario M¨¦tis. Less than two decades ago, we struggled to have the existence of the M¨¦tis people and our communities acknowledged by the government of the day, which led to us turning to the courts for recognition and justice. ?Now, in partnership with the Ontario government, we are witness to this type of recognition legislation being unanimously passed by a legislature that once put a $5,000.00 bounty on Louis Riel¡¯s head,¡± said MNO President Gary Lipinski.
President Lipinski added, ¡°While we still have much to do to advance reconciliation between the Crown and the M¨¦tis Nation, this legislation represents a significant step forward that M¨¦tis and all Ontarians can be proud of. ?On behalf of the MNO, I want to thank Premier Wynne as well as Ministers Zimmer and Orazietti and Government House Leader Naqvi in making this long held aspiration become a reality for Ontario M¨¦tis. ?I also want to acknowledge the support of the leaders of the Progressive Conservatives (Patrick Brown) and the NDP (Andrea Horwath) and their house leaders in making this happen.¡±
The MNO Act is a special purpose piece of legislation that deals with the MNO Secretariat the MNO¡¯s corporate and administrative arm which has been incorporated under Ontario law since 1994. ?The MNO Act does not deal with or interfere with the M¨¦tis Nation¡¯s internal governance and institutions that are grounded on its inherent rights of self-government and self-determination, but it recognizes and accommodates the MNO Secretariat¡¯s unique status as the corporate arm of the M¨¦tis Nation.
In particular, the legislation exempts the MNO Secretariat from various sections of the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (¡°ONCA¡±), which has already been passed by the Ontario legislature and will be given legal effect at a future date, that would create operational challenges for the MNO (e.g., the MNO elects its leadership through province-wide ballot box elections every four years whereas ONCA requires election be held at annual meetings).
While similar provincial legislation in relation to the M¨¦tis Nation¡¯s governance structures have been passed in Saskatchewan and Alberta (The M¨¦tis Act, SS 2001, c. M-14.01; The M¨¦tis Settlements Act, RSA 2000, c. M-14), this legislation represents a historic milestone for Ontario M¨¦tis--home of the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Powley because:
The legislation comes after repeated calls from M¨¦tis citizens, leaders, Community Councils and Annual General Assemblies for the MNO to work with the Ontario government to develop legislation to recognize the MNO Secretariat¡¯s unique status and role. ?Most recently, the 2015 MNO Annual General Assembly the highest governing authority within the MNO passed a unanimous resolution that directed the MNO attempt to ¡°secure unanimous support within the legislature for this historic legislation.¡±
MNO Chair France Picotte added, ¡°I am pleased that so many of our citizens, leaders and Community Councils came forward to offer their support in order to see this MNO goal become a reality. ?This legislation demonstrates the strength and effectiveness of the M¨¦tis people within this province. Je suis contente que autant de nos citoyens, dirigeants et Conseilles communautaire ont offert leur appuis pour encourager cet objectif de la NMO ¨¤ devenir une r¨¦alit¨¦. ?Cette l¨¦gislation d¨¦montre la force et l'efficacit¨¦ du peuple M¨¦tis de cette province."
MNO President Lipinski concluded, ¡°Now that this historic legislation has been passed, we will be beginning province-wide community consultations in early 2016 to engage all of our citizens on this historic legislation and discuss how we will work together to implement this new and exciting opportunity to advance M¨¦tis rights and self-government in Ontario.¡±
Additional information about the MNO Act as well as FAQs for M¨¦tis citizens, media and the general public are available at www.metisnation.org.
Quotes and support from Ontario M¨¦tis citizens, leaders and Community Councils
¡°Bill 153 gives more power and options to our M¨¦tis communities in the province. It is another example of the positive work the MNO is doing to advance our shared goals.¡±
Vice-Chair of the Provisional Council of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) and Spokesperson for the Women¡¯s Secretariat of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (WSMNO)
¡°What impressed me about Bill 153 is that it recognizes the distinctness of M¨¦tis government and provides structures that we can work within. It has been many years now that MNO citizens have been asking for this legislation.¡±
Region 3 Councillor, Provisional Council of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO)
¡°As the regional councillor, I am very much looking forward to the opportunities that Bill 153 will give to communities in my area who are looking for a chance to expand their horizons and engage in new ventures.¡±
Region 7 Councillor on the Provisional Council of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO)
"At our Annual General Assemblies, MNO citizens and communities have been asking for a bill like this for many years, which we why we are moving forward as M¨¦tis in Ontario."
Region 1 Councillor on the Provisional Council of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO)
¡°As President of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario Youth Council and a youth representative on the Provisional Council¡ªthe MNO¡¯s provincial governing body¡ªI am very pleased to see the Ontario government recognizing the vital role M¨¦tis youth play in the MNO. ?The MNO Act ensures that we can continue to make our voices heard and be active participants in the MNO¡¯s governance structures. ¡±
Youth Representative, Provisional Council of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO)
¡°Just over 12 years ago, the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario celebrated my father and brother¡¯s victory at the Supreme Court of Canada. ?The Powley case was the first time Ontario M¨¦tis were recognized by the courts as a rights bearing Aboriginal people under the Constitution. ?At the time, we had no choice but to go to court¡ªthe Ontario government steadfastly refused to recognize that we existed, much less that we had any rights. ?Today, we celebrate the Ontario government¡¯s recognition of the MNO¡¯s unique governance structure and representative role on behalf of its citizens.¡±
President, Historic Sault Ste. Marie M¨¦tis Council
¡°This legislation has great potential to help our community councils and the nation grow in ways we likely don¡¯t even realize yet. Thirty years ago no one had even heard of the M¨¦tis but it is through the efforts of the MNO that now we even have our own Act in the legislature. It is terrific example of how the MNO advances our rights, issues and culture.¡±
President of the Niagara Region M¨¦tis Council
¡°Bill 153 is a milestone for M¨¦tis in this province as we see for the first time in legislation the recognition of our governance structure as unique and distinct. It is a real advance for M¨¦tis in Ontario.¡±
President of the Kenora M¨¦tis Council
¡°It is great that all three parties supported our M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario Secretariat Act. It shows how much change has taken place in the years since the MNO was founded. Bill 153 opens up the door for even more positive change.¡±
Senator Gary Laframboise
Niagara Region M¨¦tis Council
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