(Vancouver, BC) Coffee Talk on Thursday evening of July 14th, 2011 ran the gamut of emotions from Métis pride and achievement over the recent First Nation Protocol Welcome at the Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit to the gut wrenching story of single mom Sherry Daniels, a long time employee of MNBC, who was thrown out into the street destitute and frightened.
Coffee Talk moderator Keith Henry began the show with a short but fascinating history lesson about the Métis people and their remarkable contribution to opening up western Canada. The story of how Métis were indispensable to world renowned British Columbia explorers like Mackenzie, Fraser and Thompson as they mapped the land and rivers of this province in search of an overland route to the Pacific and ultimately a trade route to the orient. This historical information is available in George and Terry Goulet’s book released in 2008 about the Métis history in British Columbia.
Coffee Talk then cut away to a seven minute video vignette from last Saturday’s historic First Nations Welcoming Protocol featuring Squamish Chief Ian Campbell, Musqueam Councilor Wade Grant and Tsleil Waututh Representative Dennis Thomas commemorating the Métis Trading Post and Artisan Exhibit on their traditional First Nation shared territories.
Coffee Talk Moderator Keith Henry read several email letters at the request of the authors, the first a family of eight in Prince George who are so strongly opposed to the MNBC debt and financial mismanagement they have decided to cut up their MNBC citizenship cards. The second email came from BCMF founding board member Joe Desjarlais who thoughtfully made public his own personal reasons for removing his and his family’s respected names from the MNBC citizenship list effectively terminating their association with the MNBC.
Coffee Talk moderator Keith Henry also shared a response to an email from the president of the Fraser Valley Métis Association (FVMA). The email was sent to correct her inaccuracies and factual errors in assumption and reminding the president of FVMA that she, through her vote and blind support of the MNBC, was also responsible for allowing the MNBC overspending to balloon to the MNBC reported $2,300,000.00 debt of the MNBC plus many other issues.
The heartbreaking story of former MNBC staff member Sherry Daniels, as told to BCMF Founding President Keith Henry, was captivating and disgusting all in the breath. Ms. Daniels is a Métis single Mom who began as a receptionist at MNBC and worked her way to roles as the Travel Coordinator and Administrative Assistant. Her performance was evaluated every year for the entire six years she worked at MNBC and she was rated as excellent in every one having even been provided an award of excellence for her service to the MNBC at one time.
Sherry had suffered some health problems that required a short medical leave in 2010 and in fact after she returned to work her doctor had advised that she go on a longer medical leave. Upon her returning to work last spring rumors began to reach her ears from MNBC leaders and some employees that she was being targeted as a CCMC ‘mole’ and in alleged communication with CCMC representative Keith Henry.
Although there was absolutely no written or verbal communication between Ms. Daniels and Mr. Henry the witch-hunt was on and MNBC gave Sherry Daniels a lay-off notice on or around the 6th of March 2011. In her letter of notice MNBC officials cited a lack of money and then made a claim that there were also work performance issues. The last claim was devastating for Ms. Daniels who prides herself on order in the workplace and in her home.
The unfolding events that occurred next can only be described as mean spirited and below contempt. MNBC then lays her off and offers no severance pay after six years of employment claiming she was just a contract employee and not deserving of severance. Finally when Ms. Daniels applies to the MNBC insurance carrier for medical leave expenses she was told they had cancelled her benefits as of March 1st 2011 before they had given her the layoff notice or even discussed her impending unemployment.
MNBC knows Sherry Daniels can’t fight back through the courts because she lacks the resources, so she just has to accept her fate at the hands of the MNBC who, after laying her and several other vital staff members off, went on a luxury retreat in the Okanagan.
These facts have been sworn to and even now Sherry Daniels is not by her own admission a disgruntled former employee of MNBC just a very disappointed one.
BCMF Founding President Keith Henry said, “This is the prime example of irresponsibility that has characterized the cruel and selfish thinking of the MNBC leadership and in particular President Bruce Dumont. Is there anyone in the federal government or the provincial government that could or would support the insensitive actions perpetrated against a long-term employee such as the case with Sherry Daniels in their own systems? Of course not because their federal and provincial unions would not allow such action without union intervention. Moreover this is not some stranger, Sherry is a Métis person and her description during the show about her feelings in spite of the situation was admirable. She is not angry at MNBC although MNBC leaders want Métis people to believe her and others are malcontents. She is hurt and disappointed that as a Métis person the people she supported were actually leaders who could be open and transparent. She does not stop being Métis because she is not employed by the MNBC!”
BCMF Founding President Henry added, “We had a record crowd last night with approximately 2930 viewers watching Coffee Talk online at 7:30 PM last night. They heard the contempt the FVMA President showed for true democracy that BCMF is fighting against each day. These MNBC purported leaders actually feel they have some right to stop information to the grass roots Métis people in BC. BCMF has presented factual information and we are 100% confident that when Métis people review both sides of the challenges they better understand why BCMF has come to be as a new beginning. We are confused why these community leaders never pass information along nor invite the BCMF to discuss the situation. Instead they blindly follow without any facts and do not pass any information along to the Métis people throughout BC.”
BCMF Founding President Henry concluded; “Where was MNBC President Dumont to answer BCMF questions during Coffee Talk? He hides behind individuals who claim to lead like the FVMA President and the result is absolutely no accountability. This is systemic as MNBC and these community leaders are what have created this entire situation. I do not believe for a minute that grass roots Métis people are not capable of understanding MNBC mismanagement. On the contrary, I am convinced that the Métis people do understand as many are simply bypassing MNBC leadership and that of these Métis Community organizations that are not open or transparent with their membership. How any government in British Columbia or Canada supports this type of governance and significant financial mismanagement is ridiculous. Where are the federal and provincial government officials? Do they actually believe MNBC is okay? Trust me when I say that BCMF will hold people responsible for this mess in the future. The Métis people of British Columbia deserve better that this.”
British Columbia Métis Federation