Métis Nation and Ontario Government Move Forward On Implementing Ipperwash Inquiry's Recommendations



    Province-Wide Consultations on Government's Duty to Consult and
    Accommodate Métis Rights in Ontario Announced

    OTTAWA, Jan. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the leadership of the Métis Nation
of Ontario (MNO) announced upcoming province-wide community consultations on
the government's duty to consult and accommodate Métis rights 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 consultations are a response to a series of Supreme Court of Canada
and Ontario court decisions on Aboriginal rights as well as Justice Linden's
recommendations in the recently released Ipperwash Inquiry report. A
backgrounder on some of these cases is provided.
    The main focus of the consultations will be to provide information to
Métis citizens on the Supreme Court of Canada's new legal framework - the duty
to consult and accommodate - which requires governments to consult and
accommodate Métis communities when the Crown contemplates actions that may
affect Métis rights, interest and way of life. Specifically, the MNO will be
consulting its communities on the development of an Ontario Métis Consultation
Framework, as a means to ensure Métis rights and interests are protected,
while also increasing Métis involvement in the forestry, mining and energy
sectors.
    Tony Belcourt, MNO President stated, "For the first time in over a
decade, the Métis people are not in court with the Ontario Government. As a
result, we now have the opportunity to work with the province on ensuring
Métis rights and interests are respected and accommodated in natural resources
development in Ontario."
    "These consultations are an example of the Ontario Government putting
Justice Linden's recommendations from the Ipperwash Inquiry into action.
Instead of confrontation and litigation when it comes to natural resource
development in this province, the MNO and the Ontario Government are working
together to ensure Métis rights and interests are recognized and respected,"
added Belcourt.
    Gary Lipinski, MNO Chair, and, MNO Portfolio Holder for Natural Resources
said, "For years our people have been wanting to increase Métis involvement in
the forestry, energy and mining sectors in this province. These consultations
will be a catalyst to make sure that happens." Lipinski concluded, "The
support for these consultations, by both the Ontario Government and the
Government of Canada, reflects a new era in Métis rights in this province. An
era based on recognition and respect for Métis rights. We are encouraging all
Métis citizens to come out to these meetings so we can hear their thoughts and
priorities as we set out a new and ambitious rights-based agenda."
    The consultations are set to begin on February 9th in Port Elgin with the
Grey Owen Sound Métis Council and the Saguingue Métis Council hosting the
first meeting. The consultations will continue through until the end of March
and include meetings in Midland, Toronto, Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste.
Marie, Ottawa, Kirkland Lake, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Dryden, Kenora, Fort
Frances, Parry Sound, Windsor, Hamilton and Welland. Additional information on
the consultations and the meeting locations are available at
www.metisnation.org/consultations or by contacting the MNO Head Office in
Ottawa.

    The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique culture,
language and heritage, with an ancestral Homeland that centres around Ontario,
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and extends into the
Northwest Territories and the northwestern United States. The Métis played an
instrumental role in the shaping of Canada, and work tirelessly to share their
culture, traditions and knowledge of the environment with their fellow
Canadians. Today, the Métis live, work, raise their families and pay taxes in
communities all across Canada.

    
                      BACKGROUNDER ON MNO PRESS RELEASE
    

    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.




For further information:

For further information: or interviews contact: Katelin Peltier, MNO
Communications Branch, (613) 798-1488 ext. 108, C: (613) 859-7130, TF:
800-263-4889, katelinp@metisnation.org


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