MMF supports First Nations in denial of Métis communities in Eastern Ontario

June 18, 2023

Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) - the National Government of the Red River Métis - recognizes the importance of the actions being taken by the Wabun Tribal Council (WTC) First Nations in Eastern Ontario in their judicial review of Canada's decision to enter a Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement with Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO).

Recently, WTC and other Ontario First Nation Leaders have called on Canada to reconsider the Agreement and to delay the corresponding federal legislation intended to be a basis of an MNO treaty. The WTC has also called on us to share our position on this issue as they recognize we are the Red River Métis - born of the west with our own history, culture, and practices.

In part, the First Nations argue there are no Métis communities and territories in Eastern Ontario and it is unconstitutional to recognize these, ignoring historical and inconvenient facts. We support the First Nations on this point. The alleged MNO "Métis territories" in Eastern Ontario are far beyond our Homeland in which we originated. The MNO "Métis communities" in question have never been a part of the Red River Métis.

In late 2019, the MMF began discussions with Professor Leroux and colleagues and engaged them to provide an analysis of MNO's "new historic Métis communities". We received their report in 2020. The MMF received a second report that same year. These reports confirmed our earlier understanding. We take the position, as do Ontario First Nations, that the MNO so-called Métis "communities" and "territories" simply and clearly do not exist in Eastern Ontario.

Much earlier in 2002, with MMF support and approval, the Métis National Council (MNC) passed the national definition of Métis. It required Citizens to have the ancestral connection to the historic Métis in what is our Homeland.

MNO immediately and blatantly ignored the definition. Despite our concerns, MNO opened the flood gates and let in thousands of non-Métis (including non-Indigenous individuals) without any ancestral connection to the Homeland and who have never been a part of our People.

Ongoing abuse of the MNC definition, coupled with MNO's newly-recognized jurisdiction under their existing Agreement and upcoming federal legislation, encourages further revisions and interpretations making their citizenship vague, expandable, and untethered. The MNO's lack of a clear definition without requiring objective and verifiable evidence for communities, territories, and citizens, is a danger to the Ontario First Nations.

It was MNO ignoring the definition, creating fictional Métis communities and territories, and signing up non-Métis, that underscored our 2019 MMF Annual General Assembly (AGA) authorization to withdraw from the MNC. The AGA recognized that MNC was unable to protect the integrity of our identity and citizenship. It also went on to say MNO's granting of citizenship to non-Métis was setting dangerous precedent. Subsequently, in 2021, the MMF and MNC went our separate ways.

Our Red River Métis rights and identity are rooted in the struggles, triumphs, and sacrifices of our Red River Métis Ancestors - not those of our First Nations Ancestors. Although we have many family relationships and common histories, as allies and as adversaries, with our First Nations neighbours, we stand proud as the distinct Indigenous People historically known as the Manitoba Métis, the New Nation or la nouvelle nation, and Lii Michif.

We, the Red River Métis, are a vibrant Indigenous collectivity with our own identity, language, culture, institutions and way of life throughout the historic Northwest, also called the Red River Métis Homeland, centred in the Red River Valley. We have no claim to territories outside our Homeland.

The Red River Métis has consistently asserted and protected our rights to land and identity as a distinct and self-governing Indigenous people within our Homeland. This reality underlay the unveiling of our national flag, the 1816 Battle of Seven Oaks - known to us as la Victoire de la Grenouillère - the Victory of the Frog Plain, the 1849 Sayer Trial, and the 1885 Battle of Batoche.

In 1869, in the face of the proposed transfer of our Homeland to Canada, and the prospect of being swamped by non-Indigenous newcomers, the Red River Métis took power and established the National Committee of the Red River Métis or le Comité national des Métis de la Rivière-Rouge. This led to the Provisional Government under the leadership of Louis Riel. With the Manitoba Act 1870, the Red River Métis became Canada's negotiating partner in Confederation and the founder of Manitoba.

The Red River Métis know who we are. Our First Nations neighbours and relatives throughout our Homeland also know who we are. We have no reason to doubt the Eastern Ontario First Nation Leaders who say they have never heard about Métis communities in their territories.

MNO represents many individuals not part of any Indigenous community. They represent a patchwork of identities. They take First Nations Ancestors and traditional territories, and mix these with our Red River Métis symbols, cultural heritage, historic milestones, and military events. They throw these together into a bizarre collection. This identity theft is disrespectful and impacts both us and First Nations.

The Red River Métis' tradition is one of respecting other Indigenous Peoples in Canada and around the world. We insist our own rights and identity also be respected. We define and speak for ourselves. The MNC does not speak for us and the MNO is not a part of us.



Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is the democratically elected National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, the origin and core of the historic Métis Nation. The Red River Métis are Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation


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