MNO Releases Final Report from Community Consultations on Crown's Duty to Consult and Accommodate Métis Rights



    OTTAWA, July 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO)
released the final report from its community consultations on developing an
Ontario Métis Consultation Framework. A copy of the report is available at the
MNO's website at www.metisnation.org.
    In January 2008, the MNO announced province-wide community consultations,
jointly supported by the Ontario Government and the Government of Canada, on
developing an Ontario Métis Consultation Framework. The proposed Consultation
Framework will increase Métis engagement, input and participation in planning
and development related to Ontario's natural resources, consistent with the
Crown's constitutional duty to consult rights-bearing Métis communities on
activities that have the potential to impact Métis rights, interests and way
of life. The final report is based on over 17 community consultation meetings
held throughout southern, central and northern Ontario, along with input
received from Métis citizens via the MNO's website dedicated to the
consultations at www.metisnation.org/consultations.
    MNO President Gary Lipinski said, "These consultations provided an
important initial opportunity for our people to discuss how governments and
industry should be working with Métis communities. Based on the impressive
turnout for these consultations, the message was clear: Métis communities want
to be involved and have a say in natural resources development in this
province that has the potential to affect Métis rights and our traditional
territories."
    The final report includes over 60 recommendations on a wide array of
topics, including, principles for an Ontario Métis Consultation Framework;
education, training and communication initiatives on the duty to consult;
Métis representation issues; capacity and funding issues; Métis research,
mapping and data collection; and, creating partnerships with industry in the
forestry, energy and mining sectors.
    The report will be used to inform ongoing bilateral and trilateral
discussions with the Ontario Government and the Government of Canada on
developing an Ontario Métis Consultation Framework as well as the MNO's
collaborative work with the Ontario Government on its recent announcements
relating to the protection of the Boreal region, revenue resource sharing with
First Nation and Métis communities, reforming and modernizing Ontario's Mining
Act and the development and implementation of the New Relationship Fund based
on the recommendation in the Ipperwash Inquiry Report.
    "This report provides an important foundation upon which the Métis Nation
can build, but it is clear that Métis citizens and communities want to
continue to be actively engaged as we move forward on this important
rights-based initiative. The MNO is optimistic that this report will represent
a starting point for a collaborative journey, with both levels of government,
in order ensure to Métis rights, interests and way of life in this province
are respected and protected for generations to come," added Lipinski.

    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.

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

    
           BACKGROUNDER ON METIS RIGHTS AND CROWN'S DUTY TO CONSULT
    

    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: Chelsey Quirk, MNO
Communications Branch, (613) 798.1488, TF: 1-800-263-4889,
chelseyq@metisnation.org


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