First Nations in the Ontario region have long opposed Métis rights assertions in our Ancestral and Treaty territories. We remain committed to protecting First Nations Inherent and Treaty rights from groups making false claims to section 35 Aboriginal rights in First Nations territories.

First Nation Leadership have been raising concerns about the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) for well over a decade. Since the MNO’s inception, its assertions have become increasingly aggressive to the point where it is now having a deeply negative impact on First Nations. This can no longer be considered unintentional. The concerns of First Nations are being explicitly ignored and mischaracterized. The MNO’s claims continue to be littered by inaccuracies and falsehoods.

The Chiefs of Ontario do not recognize the MNO as a legitimate organization, and therefore will not engage in dialogue with them. It is not reasonable to ask First Nations to have a dialogue with a group that is not honest about who it represents or what its intentions are. President Froh’s request for dialogue at the 11th hour is not a genuine attempt to engage with First Nations. We will not engage in political theatre. We simply want to share the facts.

The MNO often points to the 2004 COO-MNO Political Protocol to make the point that First Nations and Métis in Ontario used to “work in close collaboration and with mutual respect.” The truth is, as soon as First Nations realized that the MNO was making false claims to Indigenous identity that were infringing on their rights and that those false claims are damaging to groups that have constitutional protections, they took steps to end that relationship.

In 2010, First Nation Leadership stated that “the MNO was using the Protocol in a manner not envisioned or intended when authorization was given to the Protocol. In particular, some Métis groups are asserting alleged rights that are in conflict with established First Nation Aboriginal and Treaty rights,” and ultimately recognized that “the protocol had not been effective in its stated purpose.”

At the November 2010 Special Chiefs Assembly, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 10/30, directing the Ontario Regional Chief to terminate the COO-MNO Political Protocol. On December 2, 2010, correspondence from Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse to MNO President Gary Lipinski terminated the Protocol (supporting documentation can be found and downloaded here).

The Chiefs of Ontario do not wish to re-establish this relationship, as the MNO continues to make troubling and unlawful assertions in our territories that are negatively impacting our rights.

This is about land.

The MNO claims that its Métis Recognition and Self-Government Agreement, and Bill C-53, will have no impact on First Nations section 35 rights in Ontario and that neither have anything to do with Métis claims to land. This is not true.

Despite taking the public position that this legislation is “not about land,” the MNO is telling a very different story to its own members.[i] In fact, the MNO’s central focus is on advancing claims to lands within First Nations territories. This is one of the reasons Canada’s misguided enabling of MNO is an existential risk to First Nations in Ontario. Specifically:

MNO actively claims entitlement to “MNO lands” in Ontario covering “vast swaths of the province”, in the words of MNO’s President.[ii]
MNO’s “Prime Statement of Purpose” includes as one of its central objectives to “re-establish land and resource bases”.[iii]
MNO also passed resolutions about pursuing “Métis lands in Ontario” through litigation and other means.[iv]
MNO representatives have said that MNO’s “land claims and recognition of [MNO’s] right to land” is one of MNO’s biggest issues,[v] and MNO characterizes its 2017 Framework Agreement with Canada and Ontario as providing the basis to negotiate a modern-day treaty or land claims agreement.[vi]
MNO even admitted recently that the Agreement and Bill C-53 do in fact create a platform for MNO to its land claims,[vii] despite their attempts to downplay the impacts on First Nations of the legislation.

The false narrative MNO advances to support its claims is that there were historical “MNO communities” in Ontario prior to treaty, therefore claiming that MNO has equal claims to the lands in Ontario as First Nations have in Ontario. The communities represented by the MNO did not exist historically, therefore they cannot be entitled to the same rights as First Nations. The reality is the MNO is doing everything it can to undermine First Nations rights in order to secure economic benefits that they are not entitled to.

The “communities” represented by the MNO did not exist historically.

The six so-called “new historic Métis communities” in the Ontario region do not meet the legal criteria set out in R. v Powley. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that in order for a “Métis community” to qualify as having section 35 rights, it must have:

Their own distinct language, culture, customs; and
Family descendants living in a given geographic area for multiple generations prior to Effective European Control.

Academic research that examined the MNO’s own documentation (i.e., Verified Métis Family Line Assessment Documents) demonstrates that:

The MNO “Métis Root Ancestors” and their descendants are not recorded as “Métis” in the “Métis community” prior to effective control;
The MNO “Métis Root Ancestors” are not primarily identified as “Métis” in the historical record; and
Many of the Métis Root Ancestors are never actually identified as Métis in the historical record.

An example of this found in the Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin Report (“RHW Report”) is that the MNO consistently acknowledges in its Ethnicity Charts that many of the ancestors included in the Verified Métis Family Lines (“VMFL”) were never identified as “Métis” prior to Effective Control. The RHW Report highlights that 32 of the VMFLs explicitly document the first recorded case of a “Métis” ancestor in their lineage after Effective Control, suggesting that these families were never part of an already constituted community prior to the legal threshold of Effective Control.

This example is only one glimpse into why First Nations have serious concerns about the MNO’s claims that they “represent people who come from historic Métis communities”. What’s more concerning is that the MNO and Ontario refuse to provide the evidence that they claim supports the basis of the “identification” of the so-called “historic Métis communities”.

The MNO says it has an “independent” registry, but experts have shown that their registry is deeply flawed.

We continue to encourage the public and allies to read the academic research on this issue:

Robinson-Huron Waawiindamaagewin – An Exploratory Study of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s “Historic Métis Communities” in Robinson-Huron Treaty Territory
Wabun Tribal Council – The “Historic Abitibi-Inland Métis Community” – Final Report
Manitoba Métis Federation – Historic Métis Communities of Ontario: An Evaluation of Evidence

With regards to consultation processes, since the MNO’s so-called “new historic Métis communities” completely overlap with First Nations Ancestral and Treaty territorieswe had the right to be consulted before their “identification” in 2017, and before Canada entered into an agreement with them that recognizes them as having Aboriginal rights (see a side-by-side of the map of First Nation Treaties and Métis “Traditional Harvesting Territories” in the Ontario region here).

MNO is using their false claims to demand resources and benefits in First Nations’ territories and for “deep” consultation on development (including development on First Nation reserve lands), by falsely claiming that almost everywhere in Ontario are “Métis lands.”

As the MNO does not have a land-base in Ontario, the MNO should not and cannot be consulted on projects that affect land-based rights. First Nations rights are land-based rights that are intrinsically tied to the land. Without land, those rights do not exist. The MNO should not be treated as rights-holders by governments, institutions, and industry proponents.

This is an issue that has been created by institutions and groups that have not done their homework or research into who the MNO is and is not.

First Nations in the Ontario region are not the only ones concerned about the MNO’s false claims.

Indigenous groups in all regions are aware of the growing spread of groups falsely claiming Métis or First Nation status on the basis of distant or misinterpreted ancestry. First Nations in the Ontario region support the legitimate claims of Indigenous Peoples; however, recognition of unfounded claims undermines legitimate inherent rights-holders.

The Chiefs of Ontario are not alone in opposing rights assertions made by groups falsely claiming Indigenous identity. Across the country, there is a growing concern about Indigenous identity fraud and the negative impacts this has on First Nations Inherent, Treaty, and Aboriginal rights. The MNO’s claim that there are only “some Chiefs” in Ontario who are opposing Bill C-53 is simply false. Even the Red River Métis dispute the MNO’s claims of the existence of so-called “historic Métis communities” in Ontario or an “independent” registry, calling them fraudulent.

Below are a number of statements from other Indigenous groups stating concerns with Canada’s recognition of the MNO:

BC Assembly of First Nations Strongly Opposes Bill C-53, Urges Rejection of Unconstitutional Act Threatening Section 35 Rights
Statement from the Chiefs of Treaty No. 6, Treaty No. 7 and No. 8 RE: Supporting Chiefs of Ontario in opposition to Bill C-53
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Stands United with Chiefs of Ontario Against Bill C-53 
Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare Celebrates the Passing of AFN Resolution #44/23, “Protect First Nations Rights and Interests from Unfounded Métis Rights Assertions”
Special Statement from Minister Will Goodon: Bill C-53 Rewards Indigenous Identity Theft
MMF supports First Nations in denial of Métis communities in Eastern Ontario

Opposition to Bill C-53

First Nation Leadership strongly encourages the public and allies to educate themselves on this issue and call on your Member of Parliament to vote against the passing of Bill C-53. You can send a letter to your MP here. The Bill is currently under study by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (“INAN”), with the Committee accepting input in the form of briefs until November 17, 2023. It is absolutely critical that the perspective of First Nations be heard and taken seriously in Parliament’s consideration of this Bill. It is the legitimacy of our sacred rights that is at stake.

The protection of our rights is something First Nations have always taken seriously so that our Nations can benefit from those same rights for generations to come; however, it is important to remember: this is not just a First Nations issue, this is an issue that will impact us all. This is manipulative, callous identity, rights, and land fraud. We all need to stand united against false claims because if we allow this to happen anywhere, it can happen everywhere.

To read more statements, news articles, and academic research, visit https://chiefs-of-ontario.org/priorities/justice/rights-assertions/.

For more information, please contact: Jackie Lombardi, Director of Justice, at jackie.lombardi@coo.org.

– 30-

The Chiefs of Ontario support all First Nations in Ontario as they assert their sovereignty, jurisdiction and their chosen expression of nationhood.

Media Contact:

Chris Hoyos
Director of Policy and Communications
Policy and Communications Sector
Chiefs of Ontario
Cell: (416) 579-4998
E-mail: Chris.Hoyos@coo.org
______________________________

[i] Métis Nation of Ontario, Self-government Agreement, Audio Explainers, Chapter 8: Role and Jurisdiction of the Métis Government, https://www.metisnation.org/governance/self-government/mgrsa/?doing_wp_cron=1690849548.4373209476470947265625.
[ii] University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, “Alumna and Métis Nation of Ontario President Margaret Froh: ‘It’s a beautiful time to be Métis’”, online: https://www.law.utoronto.ca/news/alumna-and-m-tis-nation-ontario-president-margaret-froh-its-beautiful-time-be-m-tis.
[iii] Métis Nation of Ontario, “Métis Nation of Ontario Statement of Prime Purpose”, https://www.metisnation.org/about-the-mno/statement-of-prime-purpose/.
[iv] Resolution 18.13, “Pursuit of Métis Rights to Land,” Métis Nation of Ontario Minutes of the 12th Annual General Assembly of the Métis Nation of Ontario held July 4-8, 2005, online: https://www.metisnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/aga-050704-08-approved-0710-1406.doc.
[v] Métis Voyageur, “Métis perspective an important part of Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples”, Issue 92, October 2016, A12, online: https://www.metisnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/mv92-web_optimized.pdf.
[vi] Métis Nation of Ontario, Intervenor Written Submissions and Supporting Documents, Upper Canada Transmission Inc. Application for Leave to Construct, Ontario Energy Board, (31 October 2018), at page 29, online: https://www.rds.oeb.ca/CMWebDrawer/Record/624858/File/document.
[vii] Charnel Anderson, “What is the Métis Nation of Ontario — and why is it so controversial?”, (26 July 2023) TVO Online, https://www.tvo.org/article/what-is-the-metis-nation-of-ontario-and-why-is-it-so-controversial; TBNewswatch, “June 30, 2023: Reaction to proposed Metis self-governance legislation”, online: https://www.tbnewswatch.com/video/northwest-newsweek/northwest-newsweek-june-30-2023-reaction-to-proposed-metis-self-governance-legislation-7231919.