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M¨¦tis and Ontario begin to write new chapter in M¨¦tis rights recognition and reconciliation

MNO President Lipinski and Minister Zimmer discuss the signing of the
renewed five-year Framework Agreement.

TORONTO (April 17, 2014) ¨D Today, M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Gary Lipinski signed a renewed five-year Framework Agreement with the Honourable David Zimmer, Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, on behalf of the Ontario government.

The agreement builds on a 2008 agreement, but includes an increased focus on M¨¦tis rights through ¡°advancing reconciliation between the Crown and the M¨¦tis people¡± and providing ¡°a framework for meeting Ontario¡¯s constitutional obligations towards the M¨¦tis people consistent with the honour the Crown and decisions of the courts.¡±

MNO President Lipinski said, ¡°The renewal of our Framework Agreement is timely given today¡¯s Federal Court of Appeal decision in Daniels v. Canada which re-affirms that the federal government has constitutional jurisdiction and responsibility to deal with the M¨¦tis as a distinct Aboriginal people.¡±

Framework Agreement
(Left to right) The Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs;
MNO Chair France Picotte; MNO President Gary Lipinski at the MNO-
Ontario Framework Agreement signing April 17, 2014.

¡°In Ontario, M¨¦tis rights and claims, as recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in the landmark R v. Powley decision, remain unresolved because the federal government has been denying its responsibilities and not coming to the table to negotiate.? We hope that today¡¯s decision is a wake up call. Canada¡¯s wilful blindness to M¨¦tis rights and claims cannot continue,¡± added Lipinski.

Notably, the Framework Agreement commits the MNO and Ontario to jointly ¡°pursu[ing] discussions with the Government of Canada on M¨¦tis rights issues and the Crown¡¯s consultation duties.¡±? Ultimately, the MNO hopes a Federal M¨¦tis Claims Policy is developed, which would provide a process to address these outstanding rights and claims issues similar to what the federal government has developed for First Nations and Inuit peoples.

¡°The message is clear from the courts:? the federal government cannot continue its complete exclusion of M¨¦tis from specific and comprehensive claims processes that are open to the two other constitutionally recognized Aboriginal peoples.? The jurisdictional football the M¨¦tis are subjected to with respect to their rights, claims and needs must end,¡± stressed President Lipinski.

The Framework Agreement also makes a new commitment on the part of the MNO and Ontario to ¡°advance initiatives that support M¨¦tis children and youth to be the best that they can be.¡±? This enhanced youth-oriented commitment - a priority for MNO President Lipinski¡¯s mandate - reflects the MNO¡¯s ongoing commitment to building a stronger M¨¦tis Nation and Ontario.

¡°Today¡¯s signing of a renewed Framework Agreement,¡± stated Minister Zimmer, ?¡°will build on the 2008 agreement which helped develop important consultation capacity within the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario, supported economic development initiatives and led to improved outcomes for M¨¦tis students. I am confident the renewed agreement will further advance the well-being of M¨¦tis people in Ontario.¡±

¡°Whether it¡¯s enhancing our MNO bursaries at 31 colleges and universities across the province or making strategic investments to support M¨¦tis kids to see opportunities rather than obstacles, the processes and commitments set out in this Framework Agreement will assist us in building a stronger M¨¦tis Nation and Ontario,¡± concluded President Lipinski.

For more information on the Daniels v Canada judgement click here.

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