Current Problems

Education (6-12)

Bill C-53 Rewards Indigenous Identity Theft – Statement by Minister Will Goodon

October 2, 2023

NationTalk: Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis – In recent years, the Canadian public has become increasingly aware of the problem of Indigenous identity theft. At the individual level, this occurs when individuals falsely claim Indigenous identity to advance their careers and benefits. Indigenous identity theft can also occur at the collective level, sometimes involving thousands of people. If left unchecked, this phenomenon will have dire consequences for Indigenous peoples and their hard-won rights as well as for Canadian taxpayers.

Bill C-53, federal legislation recognizing the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) as Métis government in Ontario, has emerged as a flashpoint in this debate. The Chiefs of Ontario, backed by First Nations across the country, refuse to accept communities represented by the MNO as legitimate Métis rights-holders because they believe these communities never existed.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, supports the First Nations’ stance on MNO. The MNO communities have no historical or cultural connection to the historic Métis Nation in Western Canada rooted in the Red River Settlement.

Take a look back to put this in perspective. In 1870, when a Métis Provisional Government led by Louis Riel negotiated the entry of the Red River Settlement into Confederation as the Province of Manitoba, the Métis numbered roughly 9,000, the vast majority of the population in what was then Canada’s largest settlement west of Lake Superior. An additional 2,000 Métis lived outside the Settlement in today’s Saskatchewan and Alberta in communities tied by kinship and trade to Red River.

These are the historic Métis communities that existed before the transfer of control to Canada. We know that transfer was accompanied by the betrayal of promises made to the Red River Métis under the Manitoba Act, 1870, the formation of a Second Métis Provisional Government under Riel in Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Resistance of 1885. We know the Red River Métis paid a steep price for standing up for our rights.

We also know that communities represented by MNO played no part in our history and our struggle. In fact, the MNO has declared these to be “new historic” Métis communities. How can they be new and historic at the same time? In fact, they are fabricated.

No matter how much they try to usurp our flag, culture, identity and language, the MNO and its communities remain carpetbaggers, out to grab what does not belong to them.

The failure of the Métis National Council to expel MNO for its breach of citizenship rules forced the MMF to withdraw from that national advocacy body it had been instrumental in creating and stand independently as national leader of the Red River Métis.

Identity theft on the scale of MNO is a profound concern, with far-reaching repercussions. It is a threat to the historic Métis Nation rooted in Red River as well as to the First Nations. It also affects the Canadian taxpayer, opening the door to countless self-interested individuals lacking a connection to and acceptance by Indigenous nations, banding together to claim rights and benefits. The inclusion of MNO and its communities in Bill C-53 is a big mistake that should be corrected before the bill advances any further.

“Decisions made by Canada in support of these individuals and communities without due diligence will have current and future impacts on legitimate rightsholders for generations to come,” says MMF President David Chartrand. “We cannot let these cultural thieves and modern-day identity colonizers erode our distinct Red River Métis identity or those of the First Nations for their own gain.”

– 30 –

For more information, please contact:
Kat Patenaude – Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation
T: 204-801-7710