In 1993, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was established through the will of Métis people and their communities coming together throughout Ontario to create a Métis-specific, democratic, province-wide governance structure. The MNO represents and advocates on behalf of its citizens who are rights-bearing members of Métis communities that collectively hold rights, interests and outstanding claims protected by Sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including, but not limited to, the right of self-government. Ontario is home to the 2003 Powley decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the Métis right to harvest for food protected by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. Powley was—and remains—the only Supreme Court of Canada decision affirming Métis rights protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Media Profile has provided PR and Communications support to Métis Nation of Ontario since 2019 as they make historic strides in advancing Métis self-government.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and what you do in your role?
This year, we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Métis Nation of Ontario, where Métis communities in Ontario came together to form a Métis specific government to represent Métis citizens in the province. Those communities in Ontario and the Métis folks from the prairies who now call Ontario home opted to call the MNO their government, their voice and their advocate. The MNO is a government focused not only on advancing Métis rights, but also meeting the needs of citizens in small historic Métis communities in Northern Ontario, Métis citizens living in Toronto, Ottawa and anywhere in the province.
I’m Regional Councillor for the Huron-Superior Regional Métis Community—also known as Region Four—based in Sault Ste. Marie as well as surrounding communities like Blind River and Wawa. My role is to be their political advocate.
Q: What would you say is one of the most rewarding parts of your job?
I enjoy the work I do advocating for rights and educating Canadians about our history. But most importantly, I see the impact of initiatives like our Early Learning and Child Care Program that is helping young Métis kids in this province understand their history, identity and family and community stories. I think that’s really important. My home community is building a first in Ontario Métis Cultural Centre to tell our stories and preserve important artifacts from our history.
I had a conversation with someone the other day about our Aging At Home Program for our elders and seniors. This fellow back in my home community was speaking about the help they get from MNO to assist his elderly mother with her snow removal and how that is the thing that allows her to stay in her home and not have to move elsewhere. The little victories we have that make life a little bit better for our citizens are the things that really keep me motivated.
Q: Thanks Mitch. What do you wish that more people knew about Métis people and communities?
I wish Canadians would take more time to understand the unique history of Métis people. Often in conversations around truth and reconciliation, there’s a heavy focus on First Nations issues and rightly so; First Nations issues are incredibly important and there should be a focus on them. But often with that spotlight, left in the shadows are Métis issues and for that matter, Inuit issues. One of the most important things for folks to understand is the diversity within Indigenous communities and between and among Indigenous Peoples. I hope folks will take time to learn about the unique history of the Métis communities in Ontario and Métis communities on the Prairies–that unique, distinct history that we value so much and are so proud of.
Q: What can Canadians do to support, honour, and celebrate Métis people?
This year particularly, because the House and the Senate are discussing Federal Recognition Legislation for the Métis governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canadians can do a lot to hold their government accountable to meeting their commitments, the legally binding agreements they have signed and fulfilling those promises.
Often the responsibility and the weight of reconciliation falls on Indigenous people to hold government accountable, when we are far, far outnumbered by Canadians. It should be Canadians holding those governments accountable. So on Métis issues and on Indigenous issues more generally, Canadians shouldhold government accountable. Call your MP, call your senators and hold them accountable. Whether it’s Métis self-government, clean drinking water on-reserve or the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, call your MP and hold the government accountable. That is real, meaningful reconciliation that people can be engaged in.
Q: You touched on this a bit before, but can you explain the important moment Métis people in Ontario are in right now?
This week, we anticipate the introduction of Federal Recognition Legislation for the Métis governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta—that’s a huge step forward. We have the right to be self-governing and self-determining, which comes from our existence as an Indigenous people—it does not come from Canada. But implementing that legislation will carve out our space in Canadian law to have that right fully recognized and remove barriers within the legal system to see the full implementation of that right. We’re very excited and hopeful for unanimous consent in the House and the Senate and to move forward with Self-Government Legislation. There’s never been a more important moment for our communities to have that right recognized and affirmed, forever in law.
This blog for National Indigenous Peoples Day is part of an ongoing Q&A series with Media Profile’s Indigenous clients.
About Mitch Case
Mitch Case is a proud Métis citizen from the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Community. Mitch is a community-based historian focusing on the history of Ontario Métis communities, especially those around the Great Lakes.
In June 2020, Mitch was elected to serve as the Region 4 Councillor on the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Mitch was elected on a platform of advancing Métis Self-Government, improving communication, advancing Métis culture and most importantly, advancing the historic claims of Métis community in the Sault Ste Marie, Superior East, Huron North Shore area.
Mitch has served as a Youth Representative at the local and regional levels and was elected President of the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council (MNOYC) in 2012 and reelected in 2016. As President of the MNOYC, Mitch was a member of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario. In 2022, Mitch was appointed by the Government of Canada to serve on the Transitional Committee of the National Council for Reconciliation.