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February 6, 2024
OTTAWA – Today, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) applauds the adoption of Bill C-53, the Recognition of Certain Métis Governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan and Métis Self-Government Act, by the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN).
“It has been more than 20 years since the Supreme Court of Canada’s R. v. Powley decision, which recognized the Sault Ste Marie Métis community in north central Ontario and marked a turning point for Métis rights recognition from Ontario westward. Powley was also the starting point of our negotiations with the federal government on self-government,” said Margaret Froh, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
“For more than 200 years, Métis have tried to negotiate with Canada in good faith, but we have been met with broken promise after broken promise. Bill C-53 seeks to change this unfortunate legacy. The challenges Métis face today flow from this longstanding federal denial. It is not of our own making, but it feeds into the misinformation and misconceptions many have about Ontario Métis communities.”
After receiving 274 written briefs, hearing from 65 witnesses and holding 15 meetings, the INAN Committee adopted a series of amendments to Bill C-53 that had the support of multiple parties. These amendments to the Bill were also supported by the MNO and other Métis governments to ensure it is unquestionable that Bill C-53 does not impact the lands or rights of other Indigenous peoples.
“Bill C-53 does not impact the treaties, lands, rights or interests of First Nations in Ontario, or anywhere else, and these amendments reinforce that. It will give us the power to build out programs that support our citizens and communities, and to make laws regarding our elections, citizenship, and internal operations. It will also ensure that Métis children who end up in the child welfare system will no longer be lost to our communities,” said President Froh. “C-53 means our Métis governments can finally protect our babies and children. That is why we will not rest until it is passed.”
“As Bill C-53 moves to the next stage of the parliamentary process, we will continue to reach out to First Nation leaders across Ontario to emphasize that this legislation does not and will not impact their rights in any way. In August 2023, our Annual Assembly adopted a resolution entitled Revitalizing Our Stories, Histories, Alliances and Relationships. We will continue to do whatever we can to build bridges with other Indigenous governments. Our door is always open for respectful dialogue,” said President Froh.
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