Metis Nation of Ontario votes to remove members with incomplete citizenship files

Metis Nation of Ontario votes to remove members with incomplete citizenship files

About 18 per cent of its membership could not be verified as Metis rights-holders

Author of the article:

Canadian Press

Published Mar 02, 2023  •  Last updated 4 hours ago  •  2 minute read

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A Métis Nation flag flies in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023.
A Métis Nation flag flies in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Photo by Sean Kilpatrick /The Canadian Press

The Metis Nation of Ontario has voted to remove members who do not provide full documentation to prove a Metis connection or ancestry.

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The organization, which represents Metis people in the province, said its members voted over nearly three months on the issue and while removals won’t be immediate, the results provide direction for the future.

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“The results are clear that MNO citizens want to ensure that the MNO can verify that all of its citizens are Metis rights-holders,” the organization’s president Margaret Froh wrote in a statement. “We will move forward on this basis.”

The Metis Nation of Ontario made the decision to conduct the vote after holding its annual general assembly last August.

That came after it began assessing the completeness of its citizenship files in 2017, as part of its negotiations with Canada and Ontario on Metis self-governance.

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Work over the last six years has indicated approximately 18 per cent of its membership — or 5,400 members — could not be verified as Metis rights-holders due to missing documentation, the organization said.

Seventy-one per cent of members who cast ballots between early December and late February voted to remove members with incomplete citizenship files from the organization’s registry.

A special meeting will be called to amend bylaws and policy to remove citizens with incomplete files, the organization said.

Issues to be considered will include the need for a reasonable notice period for removal, an appeals process and clarity that removed citizens can re-apply at any time for membership if proper documentation is provided, the Metis Nation of Ontario said.

The organization said it recognizes that the issue of Metis ancestry is a sensitive and significant one and noted that it spent years offering support to citizens trying to “complete” their citizenship files.

“The MNO wants to acknowledge how sensitive of an issue this is for many,” chair Hank Rowlinson wrote in a statement.

“We will continue to be transparent and sensitive, while also respecting the collective will of Metis rights-holders and rights-bearing Metis communities in Ontario.”

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