The past is present as young descendants of 1850 Métis Petition witness historic signing

0
Voyageurs at Dawn, by Frances Anne Hopkins, 1871. Indigenous and Métis men were often hired to paddle canoes into the interior in search of furs to trade. Library and Archives Canada

Regional Implementation Agreement lays a path for community consultations, greater citizen involvement and protects the inherent rights of the regional Métis community.

Sault Ste Marie, ON • May 5, 2021 — Four young Métis people had the opportunity to witness history during a virtual signing ceremony on May 4, 2021 as the local leadership of the Huron-Superior Regional Métis Community signed a Regional Implementation Agreement (RIA) with the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).

Rayden Powley-Mortari, Memphis Powley and Morgan and Eizak Jensen acted as “honourary witnesses” to the signing. The four are all descendants of Métis signatories to an 1850 Petition that sought to protect Métis lands at Sault Ste. Marie. For the regional Huron-Superior Métis community the “honourary witnesses” represent the connection to the past and a commitment to the future.

The signing of the Regional Implementation Agreement is a significant next step for our Regional Métis Community in Region 4. The RIA is the first step on an exciting journey towards fulfilling the long held dream of Self-Government in our region. Since the days when our ancestors first “met in council” in the 1830s, to the attempts to protect our lands in 1850, to the epic battle in the courts throughout the nineties — culminating in our overwhelming victory in the Supreme Court decision in R. v. Powley — this community has long held onto the dream of governing ourselves. The RIA lays out a path forward for our region to begin consultations with our citizens and designing our future governing structures and institutions. – Mitch Case, Region 4 Councillor, Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario

In 2019, the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) and the Government of Canada signing a ground-breaking Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement that set out a new government-to-government relationship between Canada and Ontario Métis. The RIA signed on Tuesday is a significant step forward in implementing the hard fought gains secured in that landmark Métis Self-Government Agreement.

MNO Councilor for Region 4 Mitch Case signed on behalf of the Region and MNO President Margaret Froh signed on behalf of the MNO. Kim Powley and Yvonne Jensen signed on behalf of the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council and the North Channel Métis Council, respectively.  The signing was witnessed by Steve Gjos, Todd Showan and Art Bennett as well as the four “honourary witnesses”.

This is a big step forward for us. When our family and community was put on trial, there was a total denial of our rights — this agreement puts that denial to an end forever. Self-Government has always been the goal, but like they say “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” We are no longer wishing, we are realizing. – Kim Powley – President, Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council

In the coming months, the regional Métis community will develop a workplan and begin the process of community consultations with MNO citizens – all part of a process to build a stable, responsible, progressive, culturally grounded Métis Government to protect the rights, claims and interests of the generations yet to come.

Our communities have always been strongest when we are working together. The regional approach to Self-Government in the RIA ensures our whole community is working together to build a strong Métis government. I am excited to see what we will build for my grandchildren, and all the grandchildren in our community. – Yvonne Jensen – President, North Channel Métis Council

MNO citizens in Region 4 are encouraged to update their contact info (email and phone number) with the MNO registry here: Update your Contact Information – Métis Nation of Ontario (Métisnation.org).

What do the Regional Implementation Agreements do?
  • The Regional Implementation Agreements: Protect the unique rights, claims, and interests of the distinct rights-bearing Métis communities represented by the MNO; strengthen the current regional and community council governance structures throughout the MNO; apply the general commitments found in the MGRSA to each specific MNO Region; and provide a process to develop a workplan for the implementation of each specific Regional Implementation Agreement, along with funding for each Region to complete the work in the workplan.
  • RIA’s do not affect, give up, limit, surrender, or define Métis rights in any way, nor do they limit or predetermine what the future MNO Métis Government might look like.