(November 29, 2018) A Special Sitting of the Métis Nation General Assembly concluded today in a series of resolutions that will help drive the nation-to-nation relationship with Canada and strengthen the citizenship and governance of the Métis Nation. The General Assembly on November 28-29 was preceded by a two day policy forum focused on the recognition of the Métis Nation in various self-government processes currently underway.
The policy forum helped to inform the deliberations of the General Assembly. Professor Frank Tough of the University of Alberta presented a series of maps depicting the evolution and expansion of the Métis Nation as a distinct people and nation which supported a resolution adopted by the General Assembly confirming a map of the homeland of the historic Métis Nation homeland (see Homeland Map resolution). Métis lawyer Celeste McKay provided an update on the recognition of Indigenous rights in international laws.
The policy forum featured an important discussion of the challenge being faced by the Métis Nation with the rise and proliferation of groups in eastern Canada who are falsely claiming Métis rights, misappropriating the symbols of the Métis Nation, encouraging tax fraud and using their claims to Métis identity to attack legitimate rights holding Indigenous nations including the Mi’kmaq of Atlantic Canada and the Innu in Quebec. Professor Darryl Leroux of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax briefed the policy forum on the evolution of these groups, some of which are rooted in the white rights, white nationalist movement. Zabrina Whitman of the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative also addressed the forum and provided background to the MOU recently concluded by the MNC and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia which recognizes each other’s Nationhood within their respective traditional and current territories and commits them to work collaboratively on the issue of individuals misrepresenting themselves as Métis in Nova Scotia (see MOU between MNC and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia). The General Assembly took up this issue with a resolution strongly supporting and ratifying the MOU and supporting similar collaborative arrangements with other Indigenous nations that share the Métis Nation’s concern over identity theft and misrepresentation.
The policy forum included a number of sessions measuring the progress being made in negotiating self-government arrangements with Canada. Senior officials from the MNC, Governing Members and Canada briefed delegates on steps being taken to get to a government-to-government fiscal relationship between Métis governments and Canada. Former Ministerial Special Representative on Métis Reconciliation Tom Isaac provided an overview of how far have we come in implementing recommendations of his MSR report and how far we have to go. He joined Métis lawyer Jason Madden and MMF Chief of Staff Al Benoit in a discussion of what has been achieved at the s.35 rights tables with Canada, what remains to be done and what is the timeframe for concluding self-government agreements. President Chartier joined the group in a discussion of the federal government’s proposed Indigenous Rights Framework and potential legislation. The Métis Nation supports this federal initiative in order to legally protect the section 35 rights resolution processes which presently are policy-based. The panel concluded that in the event of the First Nations and Inuit not supporting the initiative, the MNC should press Ottawa to go it alone with the Métis Nation.
At the Métis Nation General Assembly on December 12 – 13, 2017 a resolution was adopted mandating the President to undertake an examination of the integrity of the historic Métis Nation homeland and citizenship in light of the past, recent and continuing developments within the Métis Nation of Ontario(MNO). President Chartier presented his report on November 28 to the Special Sitting of the General Assembly, noting that the MNO was admitted to the MNC in 1994 with a clear understanding that registration of its membership would be restricted to those Métis from the historic Métis Nation homeland i.e Métis from the prairies who had moved to Ontario and those from Métis communities in that part of northwestern Ontario contiguous to Manitoba.
The President’s report found that the MNO has failed to apply the citizenship criteria of the historic Métis Nation adopted by the General Assembly in 2002 (National Definition) and has consistently ignored and been in breach of MNC General Assembly resolutions on citizenship and grandfathering. Moreover, it has attempted to extend the boundaries of the historic Métis Nation homeland by a unilateral declaration of “new historic Métis communities” without the consent of MNC and its other Governing Members. President Chartier recommended the suspension of the MNO from the governance institutions of the Métis Nation, including the General Assembly and the Board of Governors, until it complied with the citizenship requirements set out in the National Definition.
The General Assembly adopted the President’s report and acted through resolution. Its resolution, while agreeing with the President’s recommendation for the suspension of the MNO, stated its willingness to entertain a probation period before the suspension becomes effective. The General Assembly placed the MNO on probation for one year while it meets certain conditions failing which the General Assembly will revisit this matter at the conclusion of the probation period and decide on further action. It set the following conditions that must be met for the lifting of the probation decision:
• That all MNO members must meet the criteria for citizenship in the Métis Nation set out in the 2002 General Assembly citizenship resolution (National Definition) to be eligible for enrollment and are connected to the historic Métis Nation homeland as set out in the homeland map;
• That the MNO must abide by the 2004 Métis Nation directive providing that all members shall re-register under the 2002 criteria with no grandfathering-in of members;
• That a committee of the MNC Board of Governors shall be established to organize a registry review of all MNO members to ensure the above two conditions are met, as well as provide general oversight; and
• That a panel of registrars from the western Governing Members working under the direction of the above committee shall conduct the registry review of existing MNO members and will ensure that all future citizenship applications shall abide by the 2002 criteria.
– The President’s report in Response to the Métis Nation General Assembly December 2017 Resolution on the Métis Nation of Ontario (PDF)
– A Progress Report from the Minister’s Special Representative, Thomas Isaac, on Reconciliation with the Métis – How far have we come in implementing recommendations of the MSR report and how far do we have to go? (PPT)