(Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit at Klahowya Village Stanley Park) On Saturday, July 10th, 2011 on a beautiful summer’s evening in Canada’s most famous park, over two hundred and twenty people came to celebrate an occasion so special and so historic that record books have no precedent of its kind in British Columbia.
The Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil Waututh First Nations, whose traditional territories include Stanley Park, recognized and welcomed the British Columbia Métis Federation (BCMF) its creation of the Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit on the grounds of Klahowya Village. It was an act of extraordinary generosity on the behalf the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil Waututh and you could see Métis eyes glistening with pride as BCMF Founding President Keith Henry introduced Squamish Chief Ian Campbell, Musqueam Councillor Wade Grant, and Tsleil Waututh representative Dennis Thomas.
Other dignitaries and politicians spoke eloquently of this new relationship between Métis people and BC’s Firsts Nations people. The Honourable Doug Routley NDP MLA Nanaimo North Cowichan gave full credit to the BCMF and its Founding President Keith Henry, Vice President Daryl Piper and the BCMF Board of Directors in attendance (Ken Fisher, Russ Roy, Joe Desjarlais and Beverly Lambert) for their perseverance in creating a new governance structure for BC Métis people based on the founding principles of democracy and accountability.
Vancouver Parks Board Chair Aaron Jasper also spoke with pride about the accomplishments of successfully re-creating the First Nations culture phenomenon known as Klahowya Village in Stanley Park. He and Vice Chair Constance Barnes were on stage during the First Nations Welcome Protocol and both were seen to be beaming at the inclusion of BCMF and Métis people as another important element to the purpose of the Klahowya Village.
Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society President Lyle Letendre came up on stage to speak about his community’s excitement in joining with BCMF to create an accountable provincial political organization that respects the individual Métis person’s rights to responsible financial Métis government. President Letendre wore a traditional Métis vest that he and his 90-year-old grandmother had created together and he presented a similar vest for a raffle awarding this symbolic vest to one of the evening’s many appreciative guests.
The Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit is a stunning showcase of Métis art and culture. Artists Hazel Cruse at the Métis Trading Post and Mark MiLan at the Artisan Exhibit have put together an exquisite if not breathtaking display of work that is for sale to the public throughout the summer until September.
To add to the luster of this magnificent evening of Métis celebration capping off a perfect day it was widely circulated that the North Saanich Michif Community guided by Richard Lucier have signed the second Statement of Cooperation with the BCMF. Like the Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society on June 11th 2011, North Saanich Michif Community will build on the governance structure provided by BCMF to address issues like Métis rights, culture, and socio-economic issues facing the members.
BCMF Founding President Keith Henry stated; “This was a tremendous weekend. First we had Métis Days to bring awareness to the new Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit. This included Métis dancing led by Beverly Lambert and her Silver Tip Swingers on the Klahowya Village main stage and visitors to the Klahowya Village this weekend truly loved the performances. We had over four thousand people attend the Klahowya Village, with the large majority knowing nothing about Métis people or our culture, and there were many questions about the Métis people and our culture.”
BCMF President Henry Added; “The evening event commemorative event on Saturday night was one of the most emotional evenings I have had in my life. First I strongly recognize the importance for respecting protocol with all First Nations in British Columbia. Stanley Park has such a significant traditional connection for the three host Nations that I knew that in order to ensure the Métis were supported, we had to request for their protocol welcome. There was strong support from our First Nation friends and their respective leadership attended and recognized the important contribution our Métis culture brings to the overall success of the Klahowya Village.”
BCMF President Henry further added: “The BCMF has said we are moving forward for what is best for Métis people. This weekend was an example of where the BCMF priorities are and the Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit is open each day until September 11th from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM so Métis people who could not attend this weekend can attend all summer.”
BCMF President Henry concluded; “Unfortunately our BCMF members have been informed of the latest wave of MNBC attacks on the notion of BCMF. I can only hope people see this for what it is; another personal smear campaign against the BCMF. MNBC has no real answers to the real issues and they have never offered full public disclose and all they do is spend public funds traveling throughout the province to manipulate their people and further attack BCMF. BCMF has stated that we are moving on and we will. MNBC President Dumont has never accepted the chance for a public debate to showcase people what the facts really are. All MNBC does is ensure BCMF is not in the room to ensure we cannot have the opportunity to respond. For anyone attending these meetings you have to ask yourselves if this if right? As I have said all along the BCMF will be here for you when you realize what is truly going on. ”
Remember the Métis Matters Radio Show is this week on Wednesday at 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM and the BCMF show “Coffee talk” is Thursday at 7:30 PM. Key topics and updates will be a discussion about Métis Days, the second signing of the Statement of Cooperation, and a former MNBC employee has agreed to speak publicly on Thursday live on Coffee Talk to tell their story about MNBC. BCMF promises this show is one you do not want to miss. To watch the live broadcast, go to: http://www.livestream.com/metis
British Columbia Métis Federation