More than 300 Métis citizens from communities across Ontario attended the Métis Nation of Ontario’s 17th-annual general assembly.
It was held at Old Fort William in Thunder Bay—a site of important historical significance to Ontario Métis as one of the key posts along the fur trade routes their ancestors travelled in the building of the Métis nation.
“Since creating the MNO, we have built a strong, democratic Métis government in this province, and have pushed the Métis agenda faster and farther than many of us ever thought possible when we started on the journey to revitalize the Métis Nation in Ontario,” MNO president Gary Lipinski said in his opening State of the Nation address.
“From our pursuit of Métis rights in the landmark Powley case to our framework agreement with the Ontario government, we are proud of what we have achieved by working together, as a people,” Lipinski added.
“However, we are also here today to look to the future and set new goals and priorities to strengthen ourselves, our families, our communities, and our nation throughout this province.”
This year’s annual general assembly was particularly significant for Ontario Métis because 2010 was declared the “Year of Métis Nation” by the Ontario government as well as the federal government.
It brought together Métis youth, women, and men from across the province, including local, regional, and provincially-elected Métis leadership, Métis veterans, and Métis senators.
Delegates participated in three days of business and cultural activities, including jigging and traditional Métis games.
One of the highlights of the general assembly was a gala dinner honouring former MNO president Dr. Tony Belcourt.
It also included an announcement by Lipinski that the MNO would establish an endowment in the amount of $20,000 in Dr. Belcourt’s name at the Ontario College for Arts and Design.
This endowment will support Métis students interested in pursuing a career in the arts.
The AGA included several other significant announcements, including:
•the signing of an MOU between the MNO and the Métis Nation of Alberta to strengthen ties between these Métis governments and work together on specific priority issues;
•the presentation of $25,000 from Hydro One to support the creation of a bursary for Métis students pursuing a career in energy; and
•the Ontario government’s $8.4-million commitment over four years to support Métis consultation and accommodation efforts through the New Relationship Fund.
“We have built the Métis Nation on the desire of our citizens and communities wanting to come together as a distinct aboriginal people in this province,” Lipinski noted.
“The MNO will continue to move forward on this ‘recipe for success’ to build a brighter day for Ontario Métis in the future,” he pledged.