September 19th is a date of great cultural and political significance. It represents the anniversary of the ground-breaking R v. Powley 2003 Supreme Court of Canada decision that ushered in a new era of Métis rights.
On September 19, 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous judgment, said that the Powleys, as members of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis community, possessed the Métis right to harvest and that this right is protected by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. This ground-breaking-decision has been instrumental in advancing Métis harvesting rights in Ontario and the recognition of Métis as a distinct people with their own culture, history and way of life.
While it was Steve and his son Roddy that entered the judicial arena, their fight to secure Métis rights, proved a unifying hunt for justice that after ten long years of litigation, hardship and sacrifice has benefited Métis all across the homeland.
The Powley decision cleared the way for the Interim Harvesting Agreement between the MNO and the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2004 and to further negotiations that led to the signing earlier this year of the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement on Métis Harvesting.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Powley decision. On this Powley day, in the harvest season we reflect and honour the contributions of the Powley family and extend our thanks and respect to the collective sacrifices made toward the fight for Métis rights and to protect the Métis way of life on behalf of our families, communities and future generations.
Originally posted on the Métis Nation of Ontario news page.