Sault Ste. Marie and area citizens of The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) had an opportunity to come together at The Day’s Inn and Suites on Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 as part of a campaign stop for upcoming elections for (MNOPC) Provisional Council, MNO. Candidates were out in all parts of the province as part of the campaign for MNOPC. A meet and greet was held for candidates, who were in the vicinity of the Sault on Saturday. Elections for MNOPC are held every four years.
“To be nominated for executive positions you need to have nominations from across the province; the entire Homeland, which is broken up into 9 regions.” shared Larry O’Connor, “As candidates, we need to get a minimum of 7 signatures, from seven of the nine regions; For the executive positions. If you are running for a regional position you would need signatures from the region.” Larry O’Connor is a candidate for election to the position of Secretary-Treasurer.
Larry provided very helpful insight into the MNOPC election process for Saultonline. Larry and his wife, Chris, have been travelling, along with other candidates, both present on Saturday night, and others, who are making a push towards May 2, 2016. “This campaign is giving me the opportunity to get out and visit the province, and share my perspective.”
O’Connor said, “Provisional Council for the Métis Nation of Ontario is the governing body for the Métis people in Ontario. There are 29 area Councils, (for example) Blind River, North Channel, Sault Ste. Marie, They’re all part of a region. Rural areas for this election have the opportunity to vote by mail or at a polling station that was set up at the MNO office from 3-7 pm today.”
Earlier on April 23rd, the first of two voting days had just closed. From 3-7 pm, local Métis of Ontario citizens had the opportunity to go to the MNO offices on Queen St. and cast a ballot in advance polls. The next and final date is Monday, May 2nd,2016.
Larry O’Connor is running for Provisional Council Secretary – Treasurer. There is an incumbent, Tim Pile, who has been very active, including health care initiatives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he resides. Tim was part of the slate of candidates who spoke on Saturday night. There are four candidates running for MNOPC Secretary-Treasurer.
O’Connor spoke about some of the responsibilities with the Secretary Treasurer position. “There are an array of different programmes offered through MNO. Preserving our culture, and language is very important. Language is intrinsically part of culture; it is vital that we are continuing to implement programmes and strategies to get our young people, learning from elders, and through education; preserving language is preserving culture. It is part of our strong history.”
‘The Métis language is called Michif. It is a mixed language that uses French nouns with Cree verbs and Cree grammar. It also has some Ojibwa and English words in it. A language similar to Michif, called Bungee, also had some Gaelic words in it (learned from Scottish fur traders)’
“There are a number of very good health and wellness programmes that MNO delivers.” O’Connor has devoted much of his professional life to public service, and social justice. He has been a Provincial Member of Parliament, Durham Region; was elected five times municipally, and was mayor of Brock Township at one time as well. The O’Connors have been enjoying the road tripping that comes with election campaigning. “We started in Hamilton, we went to Sudbury, Windsor, Penetanguishene, then over to Toronto, to Owen Sound Kitchener, Bradford, and we’re not finished. We’re heading to Blind River tomorrow and then to North Bay.” said Chris O’Connor.
Margaret Froh is running for President of MNOPC. She has lived in Ontario for 23 years, and is a graduate of University of Toronto Law School. Her work with Métis Nation policy is substantial. Margaret’s journey to law school began as an advocate while supporting a friend who is Ojibway-Potawatomi, with a human rights complaint. “I witnessed her struggle in a fight against the government.” she said “And for the very first time in my life I got to meet a lawyer and see the work they do. I decided that I wanted to learn that language and those skills so that I could bring that back into to my community; So I can fight for our people. My entire career has been focusing on serving First Nation and Métis government and public service. Margaret worked for the Law Society of Upper Canada, and as the MNO’s Director of Strategic Policy, Law & compliance. Since 2013, she has been MNO’s Associate Chief Operating Officer. Margaret is on faculty for the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership & Management Program (now the Lougheed Leadership Institute)
Margaret shared that she feels “Called to public service.”
Froh’s platform includes issues pertinent to Métis rights, lands and self-government. She is further focusing on protecting lands and waters. “With one comes the other. We can talk about rights, self-government and lands, but we have to be doing that in a balanced way; one that respects our connection to the land and to the water.” she said.
” I think that we, as Métis, are inherently conservational. We are a people of the land. We have been at the forefront of conservation for a long time. All of creation is important to our people.”
Froh said, if elected, “I would strike a commission on Métis rights and on Métis self-government.”
“We need to figure out as a nation of people, how self-government should work; mobility of rights, mobility of harvesting rights. We need to figure out a path for ourselves, including how we can increase our role, in terms of impacting and guiding co-management of lands, waters and resources.”
“Land claims is in our future. We have been left out of federal policy in terms of land claims. Historically we’ve never had access to federal policy to deal with land claims. The stars are aligning for our nation. We are on the path to a modern day land claim agreement for Métis in Ontario.”
A recent Supreme Court decision, ‘Daniels v. Canada’, opened the door for Métis people to enter into Nation to Nation discussions with the Federal Government of Canada. At its core, Daniels v Canada had this to decide: Does the federal government have jurisdiction over Métis and non-status Indians under section 91(24) – the section that describes the federal head of power – of the Constitution Act, 1867? The decision was, yes. On April 14, 2016 the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released the Daniels decision which answered the question of whether the federal government or provincial governments hold legislative jurisdiction over Métis and non-status Indians (the “Claimant Groups”). In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Abella, the SCC found that both Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” within the meaning of s. 91(24) [‘Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians’] of the Constitution Act, 1867 and therefore under the legislative jurisdiction of the federal government.
“I see a future that will build on the work that has been done around Métis rights. We’re in a position now, where we will be able to make significant advancements in the area of rights; we are moving forward along the path towards full self government.” she said.
Froh hopes to see a strong showing at the ballot boxes of Métis citizens getting out to vote on May 2nd. “Our strength as a nation is our people.” she said.
Monday May 2nd, 2016 is Election Day.
Hours of Polling:
9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. CST (Region One)
9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. EST (Regions Two-Nine)
‘The Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) takes its direction from, and is required to report to its citizens or citizen representatives at Annual General Assemblies. The PCMNO is comprised of a five member Executive, nine Regional Councillors, four Senators, a Youth Representative and a Post-Secondary Representative. Women’s interests are represented by the Vice-Chair. The members of the PCMNO are elected through democratic ballot box elections and represent members of the Métis community across the province.
The role of the PCMNO is to assist in the decision-making process and determine priorities for the future. With province wide representation, the PCMNO offers a forum for debate and deliberation that helps to ensure the MNO will continue to grow as a unified nation of Métis people.’ (http://www.metisnation.org/)
To learn more about the Métis Nation of Ontario, Provisional Council, and a complete list of candidates, visit this link: http://www.metisnation.org
Below are links to the candidates who were at the Day’s Inn & Suites, Saturday, April 23rd, 2016.
Larry O’Connor: http://larryoconnor.wix.com
Tim Pile: http://timpile.ca/
France Picotte: http://francepicotte.com/
Sharon McBride: http://sharonmcbride.com/
Margaret Froh: http://margaretfroh.nationbuilder.com/
‘A summary explaining Daniels v Canada and its significance has been prepared by lawyers with the firm of Pape Salter Teillet including Métis lawyer Jason Madden who was part of the legal team from the Métis National Council that intervened in Daniels v Canada at the Supreme Court. ‘ http://www.metisnation.org