MIDLAND, ON--(Marketwired - August 24, 2015) - Establishing a federal land claims process for the Métis Nation emerged as a major issue at the 22nd Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Midland. Métis from across Ontario passed a unanimous resolution calling on the federal government to establish a process that begins to address outstanding Métis rights and claims.

This resolution comes on the heels of the federal government appointing Vancouver-based lawyer Tom Isaac in June 2015 as a Ministerial Special Representative on these issues. It comes in advance of the Supreme Court of Canada hearing the landmark case of Daniels v. Canada in October 2015, which will answer the outstanding question of whether the federal government has constitutional responsibility for the Métis.

"Métis communities have been excluded from the federal claims process for far too long," explained MNO President Gary Lipinski. "This is unacceptable to Ontario Métis. Moreover, this federal exclusion can no longer be sustained based on Métis inclusion in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 as well as the Supreme Court of Canada's decisions over the last decade. Negotiations are the only way forward."

The MNO AGA also passed unanimous resolutions to make advancements on Métis harvesting rights with the Ontario Government, to ensure Métis rights and interests are addressed in any potential sale of Hydro One, to draw increased attention to the need for rail safety in order to protect the traditional territories of Ontario Métis communities as well as to call on both the provincial and federal government to ensure Métis inclusion in the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action.

At the MNO AGA, over 400 MNO citizens and leaders from across the province came together to review the Métis Nation's progress over the last year. Presentations included updates on Métis rights and legal issues, reports on the delivery of programs and services to Métis children, youth and families as well as an overview of Métis economic development progress through the Métis Voyageur Development Fund as well as the MNO's recently created business arm -- Métis Infinity Investments.

The MNO AGA also heard from a large number of dignitaries representing all three political parties. These included Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, Members of Parliament Carolyn Bennett and Bruce Stanton, MPP France Gélinas as well as several Ontario Deputy Ministers and the Presidents of Métis governments from Alberta and Manitoba and the Métis National Council.

President Lipinski took advantage of the presence of the political leaders of all stripes to encourage MNO citizens to make their presence felt in the upcoming federal election. He encouraged MNO citizens to ask candidates questions about their party's policies on Métis issues. "Pay very close attention to what the parties are saying, but even more important to what they are not saying," said President Lipinski.

Delegates also had the opportunity to take part in cultural events including a concert from award-winning Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume, who premiered her song "We Aspire" at the AGA. The song is an inspiring anthem urging Métis to be all they can be.

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Contact Information:

For more information or interviews contact:
Mike Fedyk
MNO Director of Communications
Ph: 613-314-9402 (cell)
mikef@metisnation.org (e-mail)