The following letter was sent today to the Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation for the Province of British Columbia and the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for the Government of Canada…
Dear Minister Polak and Minister Duncan,
The British Columbia Métis Federation (BCMF) is following up on the recent letter sent to your attention regarding the need to seek federal and provincial government resource support to rebuild accountable and transparent Métis governance in British Columbia.
BCMF has been provided copies of a number of Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) documents (proposals, work plans, etc.) for fiscal year 2010-2011 hat ended March 31st, 2011. MNBC purports to represent the interests of all Métis people in the province through all such documents. Most recently BCMF reviewed the Tripartite Self Government (TSN) work plan that appears to have been submitted June 15th, 2010 to the provincial and federal governments (copy attached). Although there are numerous items to address in this work plan, I would like to draw your attention to two particular challenges.
First MNBC represents Métis individuals who have applied for and received their MNBC citizenship cards. This is fact and is based on the MNBC Citizenship Act and all accompanying MNBC governance legislation. The result is that there is approximately 6500 MNBC citizenship cards today after millions of federal dollars have been spent on the MNBC registry since 2004 with minimal results in comparison to the census figure that identified roughly 60,000 as of 2006.
The issue here is that many Métis people in this province do not recognize the MNBC as their legitimate governance. There are several reasons for this; some do not care while others have witnessed how organizations like MNBC are not accountable or transparent. For example MNBC has not responded to over 90 information requests during the last two years submitted by the former Coalition of Concerned Métis Citizens that is today known as the BCMF and we have this well documented with all dates or submissions. Moreover a number of former MNBC citizens have taken steps to remove themselves from the MNBC central registry due to the inability of MNBC to be accountable and transparent.
Secondly, BCMF, as a representative for many concerned Métis people is questioning how governments address non performance issues by organizations such as the MNBC who have been provided significant public funds. According to the attached MNBC 2010-2011 TSN work plan there are three key areas to secure government investments in the MNBC; policy development, economic development, and capacity. The TSN work plan identified key performance indicators for each key area and totals 33 specific deliverables. To illustrate our point of non performance please review the 13 performance indicators agreed under the priority of Economic Development. BCMF has previously provided a MNBC report dated February 28th, 2011 to your offices where almost 100% of these indicators had absolutely 0% progress as another example of MNBC mismanagement. The excerpt of this report is also attached for your confirmation and BCMF is in possession of this entire report. Moreover after reviewing the other TSN performance indicators there is serious questions about the required results. BCMF representatives can confirm that we have been in attendance at provincial MNBC meetings and there was no progress on several other key items such as the Interpretative Act and the Assembly and Procedures Act. The question becomes how do government funding partners hold MNBC accountable since concerned Métis people cannot get information directly from MNBC on these sorts of information?
The MNBC certainly does not share their work plans with their constituents or Métis communities while they in turn financially benefit from blanket statements that are not accurate as evidenced in the TSN work plan. According to the 2009-2010 MNBC financial statements the Office of the Federal Interlocutor provided MNBC approximately $2.3 million for registry, policy and governance work on behalf of the Métis people of BC. The Province of BC provided another $270,000.00 for policy and governance work. BCMF has requested the MNBC 2010-2011 financial statements but MNBC has yet to respond to or indicate when their financial statements will be made public.
Upon further review of this 2010-2011 TSN submission as an example it appears governments were asked to support largely infrastructure of the MNBC of $500,000.00 through mostly salaries of staff and their elected leaders. MNBC has not maintained regional governance councils consistently and there is significant travel and administration that we believe is being used and redirected to support their political agenda to take legal action against Métis people such as myself who have raised issues. We understand these issues can occur but we do not understand how it appears that governments continue to support this organization that cannot produce results or meet their fiduciary obligations.
We hope all levels of governments come to realize this situation has become a public embarrassment. Métis people have an organization in the MNBC that benefits from substantial government financial support, yet has still managed to produce massive debt for the last three consecutive years. MNBC submits funding request documents to governments that appear to be misleading. In fact MNBC leaders have stated on numerous occasions publicly that their massive increase in organizational debt is a direct result of a loss of government funding. However, a review of the MNBC financials over the last three years does not support this claim. More importantly this same review demonstrates how the debt is a direct result of overspending by MNBC themselves on their overall administration while no support for the Métis communities, our culture, or people.
BCMF understands Métis people in BC require this infrastructure and perhaps it is time for governments to consider a prorated split in this funding for BC. Based on the 2009-2010 MNBC financial statements the resources to support registry, governance and policy work totaled approximately $2.6 million. MNBC represents about 8,000 (approved or citizenship applications in progress) which equates to about 13%. Therefore one consideration for governments to move forward is the notion that MNBC retains only 13% of the current Métis governance, policy, and registry resources subject to further clarification of how investments of MNBC activities funded in 2009-2010 were completed? MNBC should be pressed to further explain how the funding was utilized as clearly the results were not achieved.
In closing BCMF requests governments to continue to understand the situation. This letter and attached documents have been drafted to provide each of you more examples of the challenges we face as Métis people in BC because of the mismanagement and false perceptions of the MNBC. The MNBC 2010-2011 TSN work plan is nothing more than “pushing paper” to secure your funding. The MNBC plan was not presented to communities for their input or direction in advance, the 2010-2011 results appear to be minimal at best, and there are several incorrect statements regarding who MNBC represents in this documentation. Finally the work plan summary states that economic development is a priority and while BCMF agrees this is an important area, we find it unfortunate that 9 months later MNBC’s own internal reporting demonstrated there was almost 0% progress for economic development.
BCMF will be providing another example of MNBC mismanagement shortly to further assist your awareness. BCMF continues our call on governments to consider a new governance process with the BCMF and we have presented each of your offices options and initial work planning. We believe this is a more logical investment of public funds going forward and we look forward to meeting with your officials at their earliest opportunity.
Please feel to contact me should you have any further questions. I can be reached at the BCMF head office number 1-604-638-7220 or by email directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
British Columbia Métis Federation
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5R 5W2
BCMF Board of Directors
Mary Lou Kenney, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of Canada
Rod Cunningham, Service Canada
Arlene Paton, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation