MÉTIS POLICY AND GOVERNMENT INFLUENCE
For over 30 years, Hank Rowlinson has been advocating for Indigenous rights and developing policy. Hank was elected as the President of the Aboriginal Peoples Commission of Ontario and served two terms. He was later nominated by Chief Charles Fox (then AFN Regional Chief) and was subequently twice elected, by First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders as National Co-President of the Aboriginal Peoples Commission of Canada. In these roles he was an Indigenous advisor for Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, political staffers, the Premier of Ontario and the Prime Minister of Canada.
In efforts to advance Indigenous rights, the mandate of these commissions was to work collaboratively (Métis, First Nations and Inuit) formulating policies that have an impact on Indigenous peoples and their communities. Hank was effective in coming together on common issues and securing full support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit policies that continue to guide the Government of Canada.
Hank directly contributed to drafting, lobbied for, and secured full consensus at a 2004 Policy Convention for many Métis specific policies. A few key ones have been provided below. The work done behind the scenes and policies developed and adopted years ago have helped pave the path that the Métis Nation of Ontario is now traveling.
Result: 2016 Speech from the Throne by the Government of Canada includes this pledge:
“Because it is both the right thing to do and a certain path to economic growth, the Government will undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership”.
With Hank Rowlinson as Chair of the MNO, he will be in a position to work with the MNO Leadership to hold the Federal government to task to honour and move forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.
Establishing a Métis Comprehensive Claims Policy
Whereas the Métis, as a distinct Aboriginal people, have played and continue to play an important role in the development of Canada;
And Whereas Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada;
And Whereas the Métis are included as one of the “aboriginal peoples of Canada” in s.35 (2) of the Constitution Act, 1982;
And Whereas in September 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada judicially confirmed in R. v. Powley that Métis people in Canada have constitutional rights that must be respected and accommodated by all governments;
And Whereas Section 35 calls for the just reconciliation of Aboriginal rights within the Canadian federation through good faith negotiations between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples;
And Whereas the Government of Canada’s existing policy does not provide for rights-based negotiations with Métis governments south of 60;
And Whereas the Government of Canada has already established negotiations processes with First Nation and Inuit peoples in order to address their rights and resolve their outstanding claims against the Crown;
Therefore be it Resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to develop, in collaboration with the Métis National Council and its Governing Members, a Métis comprehensive claims process which enables negotiations between Métis governments and Canada in order to begin to address rights-based issues and resolve outstanding Métis claims against the Crown.
Métis Recognition and Rights Policy
Whereas: The Constitution Act of 1982 s.35 recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada;
And Whereas; s.35 and other Aboriginal Rights provisions were the result of a political and national process of Constitutional renewal for the benefit of all Canadians;
And Whereas; International Law, United Nations practice and Supreme Court of Canada all support the rights to self-government;
And Whereas; The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended in 1996 that the Government of Canada legislate the recognition of Métis people and their right to self-government;
And Whereas; The United Nations, in reviewing Canada’s performance of its obligations to respect international law, and to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission;
And Whereas; The “Indian” people are recognized in the Indian Act and negotiate treaties with the Government of Canada, but the Métis Nation is not recognized in Federal Legislation,
Therefore Be It Resolved; That the Liberal Party of Canada support the Métis Nation in urging the federal government to introduce federal legislation implementing the rights of the Métis people , and;
Be It Further Resolved; That the Liberal Party of Canada supports the development of Federal policy and legislation concerning Métis Rights, with the full participation of representatives of the Métis National Council.
Self-determination – Resolution No. 14
Whereas: Section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedom recognizes and affirms Aboriginal rights;
Whereas: Aboriginal is defined within the Constitution Act, 1982 as First Nation, Inuit and Métis;
Whereas: Aboriginal peoples of Canada have a right to self-determination as upheld in law;
Whereas: It is consistent with the right of self-determination that the membership of these three recognized peoples be defined, determined and approved by the communities and Aboriginal nations rather than by federal legislation;
Whereas: The federal legislation, specifically the Indian Act and Bill C-31 has alienated members of Aboriginal nations and prevented Aboriginal peoples from exercising their basic right to self-definition and self-determination, has perpetuated discrimination against Indian women by creating a second generation cut-off in the transmission of status and has ensured the eventual extinction of registered status First Nation peoples across Canada;
Be it resolved: That the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to instruct the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and/or ministers responsible for Aboriginal programmes, services, policy and legislation, to consult immediately with organizations representing the affected Aboriginal nations, including the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis National Council to resolve this issue.
Métis Economic Development Policy
Whereas: The Constitution Act of 1982 s.35 recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, which includes Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada;
And Whereas a broad range of economic development programs and services are provided by the Government of Canada to Indian and Inuit peoples but not to the Métis;
And Whereas the lack of economic development programs and services to Métis people within Canada is a significant barrier to the economic progress of the Métis Nation;
Be It Resolved that Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada continue funding for Aboriginal economic development programs and services and acknowledges the relative proportion of Métis people as a percentage of Aboriginal peoples within Canada, and;
Be It Further Resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada that Métis specific economic development programs and services be developed and funded by the Government of Canada which do not negatively impact funding levels and/or program components of existing Aboriginal economic development programs and services, and;
Be It Further Resolved that the Liberal Party of Canada urge the Government of Canada to undertake a process of consultations with the full participation of representatives of the Métis National Council, which represents the Métis people of Canada, leading to the development of a range of economic development programs and services to ensure the full participation of Métis people in the economy of Canada.