Métis Leaders Sign Historic Protocol Crown's Duty to Consult and Accommodate Métis Rights



    TIMMINS, ON, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO)
President, Gary Lipinski, joined with local and regional Métis leadership in
Timmins to sign a historic Protocol, which aims to ensure the Crown fulfills
its constitutional duty to consult and accommodate Métis rights, interest and
way of life in the region.
    The Protocol is the first of its kind within the Métis Nation. It commits
various levels of Métis government to work together to ensure all Métis
citizens who live in and use the Métis traditional territories of
Abitibi/Temiscamigue and James Bay will be consulted in relation to upcoming
hydroelectric, mining and forestry developments in these territories.
    Based on this Protocol, Métis will be participating in the upcoming
environmental assessment on Ontario Power Generation's Lower Mattagami
Hydroelectric Project that is overseen the Canadian Environmental Assessment
Agency as well as engaging mining companies to ensure Métis rights and
interests are considered in future exploration and development in the region.
    "With this Protocol, the Métis Nation is building on the Supreme Court of
Canada's affirmation of Métis rights in the landmark Powley case. By working
together, the MNO and its Community Councils will ensure all Métis citizens
will have a say on what is being done on the lands they have relied on for
generations," said President Lipinski.
    Lipinski concluded, "This community-driven initiative will also ensure
Métis in the region begin to benefit from the energy, forestry and mining
development that is happening within their traditional territories. I want to
congratulate the local and regional Metis leadership who have worked so hard
to see this Protocol become a reality."

    A backgrounder on Métis rights and the Crown's duty to consult and
accommodate is attached.



    BACKGROUNDER ON METIS RIGHTS AND THE CROWN'S DUTY

    In 2003, in R. v. Powley, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that
Métis communities hold constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights that must
be respected by governments.
    In 2004, in the Haida Nation v. British Columbia and Taku River Tlingit
v. British Columbia cases, the Supreme Court set out a new legal framework -
the duty to consult and accommodate - which directs the Crown to consult with
Aboriginal peoples and accommodate proven and asserted Aboriginal rights when
governments contemplate developments that may affect Aboriginal rights and way
of life.
    In July 2004, based on the Powley, Haida and Taku decisions, the MNO and
the Ontario Ministry for Natural Resources (MNR) entered into a province-wide
accommodation agreement on Métis harvesting based on credible Métis harvesting
rights claims throughout the province. In June 2007, the MNO-MNR agreement was
upheld by the Ontario Court of Justice in R. v. Laurin as "legally defensible"
and "highly principled" based on Haida and Taku. In July 2007, the Ontario
Government decided not to appeal the Laurin case and renewed discussions with
the MNO in order to fully implement the MNO-MNR agreement.
    In May 2007, the Ipperwash Inquiry report recommended that the Ontario
Government work with Aboriginal peoples on implementing the duty to consult
and accommodate in legislation, regulations, and other applicable government
policies in order to promote respect and understanding for this duty
throughout the provincial government and increase Aboriginal engagement in and
benefit from the development of natural resources in the province.
    In January 2008, both the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, on behalf of
the Ontario Government, and the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis
and Non-Status Indians, on behalf of the Government of Canada, agreed to
provide resources to the MNO to undertake consultation on the duty to consult
and accommodate with its citizens with a view to increasing Métis input and
involvement in Ontario's forestry, energy and mining sectors as well as
developing an Ontario Métis Consultation Framework.
    The Protocol signed today builds upon what the MNO heard in those
consultations as well as addresses the issues and concerns identified by Métis
citizens who live in and harvest throughout the Abitibi/Temiscamigue and James
Bay traditional territories.




For further information:

For further information: or interviews contact: Chelsey Quirk,  MNO
Communications Branch, (613) 798-1488, C: (613) 299-6085,
chelseyq@metisnation.org


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