Metis Nation of Ontario president Gary Lipinski
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THUNDER BAY -- The president of the Metis Nation of Ontario is disappointed the legal battle over governmental jurisdiction for Metis issues continues to wage on.
Gary Lipinski thought the ruling earlier this year by the Federal Court of Appeal was going to be the decisive victory in finally determining Ottawa has jurisdiction over Metis people and non-status First Nations.
The federal government is attempting to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing it is a provincial issue.
“We had hoped with the Federal Court of Appeal ruling in the Daniels case that the federal government would not have appealed it and we would be able to get some discussion and negotiation underway,” Lipinski said on Friday in advance of the Metis Nation of Ontario’s annual general assembly.
That appeal affects the ability of Metis people to access post-secondary funding, health benefits and can affect the land claims process.
The decision by the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Metis people have the right to the same federal programs and services as status First Nations and Inuit.
There are about 350,000 Metis people in Canada.
“With that now appealed it will probably be stalled out for a year or two before we get a Supreme Court decision, if they decide to hear it,” he said.
The organization’s 21st annual general assembly is being hosted in the city this weekend at the Valhalla Inn and includes delegates from all over the province.
In addition to discussing the Daniels case, there are many other issues that will be examined over the course of the weekend.
Another major point of emphasis during the assembly will be the refusal of the federal government to order a public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
The lack of any action is “reprehensible,” Lipinski said.
“If you took the Aboriginal people out and substituted any other ethnic group for that number of women going missing or murdered there would be such a public outcry and the government would not be holding back,” he said.
“More needs to be investigated through a public inquiry to find out what the root causes and root problems of this are. This is going on and not getting any better.”
A trio of provincial cabinet ministers are expected to make an appearance on Saturday to address the assembly.
That group includes Northern Development and Mines Minister Michael Gravelle, Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro and Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer.
“We’ve been very fortunate in the past number of years to build a very strong relationship with the government of Ontario,” Lipinski said, adding the Metis Nation recently renewed a five-year framework agreement with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
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