Métis Nation citizenship: The real issue

Pictured: The Métis Nation flag.(Photo: metisnation.ca)

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Presidents of Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan signed a document and issued a press release undermining the integrity of the Métis Nation

News Release

Métis National Council

On January 16, 2020, Presidents Margaret Froh of Ontario, Audrey Poitras of Alberta, and Glen McCallum of Saskatchewan signed a document and issued a press release that undermines the integrity of the Métis Nation. The document they signed was not a Métis National Council (MNC) resolution. Nor was this document endorsed by the Assemblies of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S) or Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA). The Presidents signed without any Assembly debates or votes by representatives of the grassroots citizens.

In their release they have completely avoided direct discussion of the real issue of Ontario Citizenship. This is about the failure of Ontario to comply with the Métis National Definition and the failure of Métis Nation – Saskatchewan and Métis Nation of Alberta Presidents to comply with their executive responsibilities. Instead they have assaulted the very definition and identity of the Métis Nation and endangered its integrity and its future. To clarify the issues and defend the descendants of the historic Métis Nation, the Métis National Council, as the Métis Nation's national voice, is issuing this press release.

The Métis Nation is a distinct Indigenous People in Western Canada. We have always determined who our Citizens are. We have fought to protect our identity and our rights. These struggles, to name only a few, include the 1816 Battle of Seven Oaks (Victory of the Frog Plain); the 1849 Sayer Trial; the events leading to the 1870 creation of Manitoba; and the 1885 Battle of Batoche. Our Ancestors paid a very heavy price for their families' future. Today, with our Ancestors' legacy, we have the passion, strength, and perseverance to stand for what is right.

The struggles of our Ancestors culminated in the inclusion of the Métis in s. 35 of the 1982 Canadian Constitution as one of three Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. In 1983 the Métis Nation formed the Métis National Council, as an expression and instrument of Métis nationalism and the quest of our people for self-government within the Canadian federation and never again to be grouped within pan-Aboriginal political bodies. Today, after many hard-won battles in the field, in the courts, and in the political fora, three Presidents are now undermining the strength and democracy of the Nation.

The actions of these Presidents are in direct conflict with the Métis National Definition that all of the Métis National Council Governing Members agreed to in 2002 – almost twenty years ago. This National Definition was agreed to by all Citizens through their Assemblies and is now in each Governing Member's Constitution. The National Definition was adopted to ensure the Métis Nation has objectively verifiable standards and processes to identify our Citizens. Ontario has not followed the definition as adopted by the people of the Métis Nation.

In November 2018, the Métis National Council General Assembly, in which all Governing Members participated, passed a resolution making it clear that Ontario was acting contrary to the definition. The resolution required Ontario's compliance, putting Ontario on probation for one-year pending suspension if it did not follow the definition, and Ontario participation in a process that would examine Ontario's registry and verify compliance with the definition. In a second resolution, the General Assembly defined the boundaries of our historic Homeland which was accepted by and binding on all Governing Members. Ontario has chosen to flagrantly disregard both resolutions of the Assembly.

The Presidents have the fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the Métis National Council and are required to comply with its bylaws. This includes following the Métis National Definition and the subsequent resolutions concerning Ontario's lack of respect for the definition. Their actions are not only inconsistent with, but in direct contradiction to, their responsibilities.

By not following the Métis National Definition, Ontario is, wrongfully, purporting to grant Métis Nation Citizenship to people living in eastern Ontario who are not part of the Métis Nation. Their communities in which they live are shamefully and wrongly claimed to be part of the historic Métis Nation. These communities are not, have never been, and can never be a part of our Métis Nation's history and Homeland.

The swamping of the Métis Nation by non-Métis people from Eastern Canada was foreseen by Louis Riel. He feared they would take away our lands and resources, and deny us our rights. There was an invasion after 1870 and another after 1885. Now, with the actions of Ontario, we are confronted by the prospect of a third invasion. This is the most dangerous because these new invaders, self-styled "Métis" groups, are springing up all over Ontario, Québec, and Atlantic Canada. They have no connection historically, culturally or politically with the Métis Nation in western Canada, but seek to usurp our hard-fought rights.

The actions of these three individuals are circumventing the definition of the Métis Nation, which amounts to cultural appropriation. This promotes Métis identity theft. This group is putting at risk the birthright of generations of our children. They are sacrificing our people's future.

During the last several years, the Métis Nation has been very successful in bringing new investments into the Métis Nation for the benefit of today and future generations. Now, the unwillingness of these people to honor the democratic decisions of the Métis Nation is putting at risk all of these hard-fought gains.

As we begin celebrations of the 150 anniversary of the Métis Nation bringing our Homeland into Confederation, we strengthen our resolve to defend the integrity of our Nation and our Citizenship.

The Métis National Council represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international levels. The Métis Nation's homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into the contiguous parts of British Columbia, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the United States. There are approximately 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, roughly a quarter of all Aboriginal peoples in the country.

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(Image: Métis National Council)
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