Cochrane Times Post, May 9, 2017
It is historical times for those citizens of the Métis Nation. A century plus long battle for recognition is moving rapidly towards that goal.
That is why the president of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and the MNO Commission on Self-Government was in Cochrane last week to talk to local Métis citizens.
The meeting was held at the Ice Hut Bar and Grill and included a large congregation of Métis from the Northern Lights Métis Council which represents Iroquois Falls, Cochrane and Smooth Rock Falls.
The event as opened by a prayer from Senator Eugene Contant and singing of the theme song.
MNO president Margaret Froh and the members of the Commission: Nelson Montreuil, Pearl Gabona, Vic Brunelle, Kim Powley were on hand to answer questions and discuss the progress that has been happening over the last 18 months.
Frances Picotte acted as convenor and Mayor Peter Politis welcomed the group.
The Commission is touring all the 29 MNO councils in Ontario and Cochrane was just one stop on that tour. They hoped to address concerns and work on a plan for moving forward.
Froh went into the history of the Métis people’s story that spanned over 200 years and how the Métis emerged as a distinct Aboriginal people, before Canada was Canada. With both European voyageur and First Nation ancestors, the Métis have a rich history with their own customs, language (Michif) and traditions.
She discussed the Louis Riel rebellion and how Riel tried to protect the lands occupied by Métis and First Nations from encroachment of new settlers but was hung for treason.
She spoke about the cultural difference between the Métis, First Nation and Inuit people and how the Métis were silenced decades ago and not protected. She noted the part of Canadian history “the grand silence” when the Métis chose not to identify themselves publicly as such for fear of the dangers they faced. But, she also spoke on the determination that the Métis continued to practice their traditions and to have the right to take their place in the country as unique in identity, culture and community.
Froh and the commission then asked those in attendance for suggestions on a variety of issues that are necessary to move the process along. Those suggestions and those from the other meetings will be compiled and released in Thunder Bay later this year.
For more information visit www.metisnation.org