Disappointing Provincial Government Response to BCMF

BCMF is providing a copy of a letter sent to BCMF President Keith Henry dated September 8th, 2011 from Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) Minister Honourable Mary Polak. The Ministers response is not surprising to many at the BCMF but is truely a disappointment in light of the mounting evidence of MNBC financial mismanagement and growing community support for BCMF.

BCMF President Keith Henry has responsed earlier today and will continue to identify diplomatic options to address alternative solutions.

This will be a key focus on this week’s show Coffee Talk Thursday at 7:30 PM.


Click here to download the MARR letter. Click here to download the BCMF letter in response.


8 Responses to Disappointing Provincial Government Response to BCMF

  1. Metisangel September 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    I am very impressed with the BCMF letter in response.
    I find personally, when I am dealing with staff at government offices, I sometimes find I that I feel like I have a brain and where is theirs? That’s how I feel about this.

    I would like to ask you Mr. President, should we members, take words from your letter, so that we are sounding as professional as possible and write letters of our own to this same MARR?
    I know that with your permission I would be totally willing to do so as I feel that a barrage of letters from actual Metis people would help for that office to wake up and smell the coffee.
    Please let me and other readers know what you suggest here.

  2. Richard Lucier-larson September 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Metisangel ,
    I also think this is a good idea and possibly C.C. to your local M.L.A. and M.P..
    Richard Lucier-larson

  3. Tim St. Denis September 21, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    This a typical government response. First of all the government will not take sides in an “inside dispute”, they will take the status quo as they have stated and for the reasons they have stated. I firmly believe they are taking the information we have provided and possibly given MNBC an ultimatum while at the same time keeping us at arms length.
    The government is only funding the Metis to show the world that they are taking care of their Aboriginal people. Twelve million dollars seems like a lot to us but it is nothing to them. They spend billions on helicopters and rocket launchers. When we fail ourselves they do not care, in fact they will use our millions elsewhere until our house is in order and could care less how long it takes.
    I did not join BCMF to scoop the funding from MNBC. I joined because there is a principle of doing the right thing and holding the MNBC to account and I feel we are doing a fine job at that. IMO.
    Tim St. Denis

  4. Keith Henry September 21, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Thank you Métis Angel, Richard, and Tim,

    First, Métis Angel… Yes, I request all BCMF members and supporters to do exactly what you have identified. We sent the letter to all Provincial MLAs (there are 85) and I hope people will contact their local MLA and make them aware of your views. If you want to use the BCMF letter, please do so. This way the Provincial Minister has more “evidence” she is quoted as requiring. This will be the only way to have governments better understand the seriousness of the situation.

    Second, I agree with Tim 100%. BCMF did not form to scoop MNBC in any manner. BCMF formed because a number of people recognized that there needs to be a better representative structure in place and one that puts culture and community first. BCMF continues to showcase this. Yes we are disappointed with the recent Provincial response but I do recognize governments are in a tough position. I certainly do not want anyone to think BCMF feels governments should resolve this situation. We, the people, have to and that is a fact. That is the main reason BCMF came to be – an alternative for Métis people who support accountable and transparent governance.

    MNBC will try to use the MARR letter to somehow validate their role. This is fine but shortsighted on their part. This does not get MNBC out of their financial mess, nor does it mean their MNBC members will get better communication or accountability for the millions being spent without their knowledge. There is new information that will be out shortly and will continue to demonstrate the ongoing challenges.

    For now, BCMF calls Métis people to action, send an email to your MLA or MP (Federal) and use the BCMF letter or response. Make these politicians aware that the MNBC financial mismanagement is not acceptable and you want something done about it.

    Look what BCMF has accomplished already in such a short time:

    1. Forced MNBC board to reduce salaries
    2. Forced MNBC to finally disclose their 2010-2011 financial statements
    3. Raised government awareness about the seriousness of the situation
    4. Significant communications
    5. Established a 13 member board with representation from throughout BC
    6. Has initiated strategic communications through an interactive website, online talk show, newsletters, etc.
    7. Supported a major Métis exhibit in Stanley Park

    Imagine what we would do with resources…

    BCMF is patient and will be there when MNBC finally crumbles. It is only a matter of time until the MNBC mismanagement will catch up and completely destroy everything.

    Keep the strength all, BCMF will be there regardless. We have learned that our volunteer efforts must remain strong and our commitment to ensure our culture and communities are supported will never stop.

    Keith Henry
    British Columbia Métis Federation

  5. Earlene Bitterman September 21, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    After reading this letter I was a bit dismayed at the government turning a blind eye to the non consultation with our communities, and the inactivity of the communities that purport to represent us as members every year at MNGA’s. Every year my community seems to send a representative, but never any meetings or announcement as such as a member. Here is my letter that was sent yesterday:

    Reference No. 28023

    Mary Polak
    Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
    102-20611 Fraser Highway
    Langley BC
    V3A 4G4

    Earlene Bitterman
    Box 597
    Hudson’s Hope BC
    V0C 1V0

    Dear Mary Polak,

    I have received your letter to the BCMF that has been circulated via an email list to various outlets, and feel I must comment. The intent of the letter was speaking to various MNBC governance processes that the provincial minister upholds under a bilateral relationship and trilateral agreement with the Federal interlocutor. In my experience over the last 20 years being involved in Métis government and as a political activist for Métis rights, our family has never been inclusively apart of these governance processes.

    In this arrangement the recognized Métis representatives are the BC Métis Nation in which they purport to have so many communities that they have signed affiliation agreements with. In my area which I live in Hudson’s Hope where there is no Métis local so we joined other societies that are under the umbrella of the main body of the MNBC. In the years, it is my observation there is the absence of communication, lack of meetings, and absolutely no consultation with its members from the grassroots community. I pay reference to the North East Métis Association in which I hold a local membership card, in which we have no input into any of the society’s decision making upon our behalf, in which they send a representative every year to the MNBC AGM and Métis Nation Governing assembly. The society does not hold regular meetings nor do they inform of regular meetings so how do they obtain a mandate from their community members? Within this governance process that the Minister states is working for the people, pay reference to the number of citizens registered, and how many attend every AGM for the last few years since provincial elections. For reference: Citizenship cards in estimate 6000, AGM attendance estimate 182.

    The very organization of MNBC governance structure is not conducive to Aboriginal democracy in which ever member becomes an integral part of the overall structure. The last few AGM’s I flew down at my own expense to attend the AGM’s to find out what governance was taking place upon my citizenship, and it has varied my opinion in which to maintain my membership within the citizenship process. In my observations I have noticed that true democracy did not take place with leadership posturing, and intimidation with lawyers, in one of my trips I had the MNBC lawyer walk up to me and pay reference to my attendance as I was not one of their regular paid delegates.

    The North East Métis association did finally hold an AGM which was mandated under the society act, in which the Regional director and the Senator quickly kiboshed and postponed by MNBC as to not lose the support of the sitting president just before the next MNGA. I launched a senate complaint against the Senator as it was out of his duties to interfere politically in any local charter AGM meetings besides ceremony. (found on the MNBC Senate website for reference) As the Regional director and the Senator are brothers it was dismissed in the senate, and noted he was remorseful. I am still in awe how the government can uphold this mismanagement and lack of any governance as it is only perceived governance, within my observations, not benefiting any community members in the northern part of the province.

    In our research our family can actively demonstrate via documents our existence in BC prior to confederation control, with family ancestors occupying the northern part of the region since 1850 and recorded in Fort st John BC in post journals in 1880-1894. We can demonstrate that fact, and quite frankly the Métis citizenship process is flawed in that regard. This year, I cut up my Métis Nation citizenship card as well as my immediate family, and do not continue to support the mismanagement, and the lack of consultation within governance processes including the inaccuracy of verifying pre-confederation Métis families.

    In this letter I do offer a solution which would benefit many Métis people in the province of BC, is

    1) The problems that are showing themselves are nepotism, political indifferences, legal wrangling and human rights abuses and these problems are not isolated to the current MNBC leadership, but the past as well. How is this to assist the Métis Citizens in the grassroots communities when the government passes of their fiduciary responsibility to each and every citizen to one group or another that continually forgets about their community members and their mandate? If the government is to maintain this course, ensure that true governance and democracy is being upheld before putting Provincial or Federal government endorsement behind it. I have sat in Federal Negotiations within First Nation Treaty Land Negotiations in the past and it was integral to those negotiations and consultations be documented, and that the community members be a overwhelming majority before any community decisions are accepted. Many do not accept the MNBC as our representatives as the MNBC governance formed by a small group and were not a overwhelming majority nor did it create the opportunity for many of the northern Métis community members to be involved.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide my insight to your correspondence as a Metis community member.

  6. Metis 2012 September 26, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    The above letter is our thoughts exactly we recently noticed MNBC is trying to implement a communication plan. The local here does not have the capacity to communicate with their members. I live in Dawson Creek and there is only a select few that the North East Metis association associates with and relays information. Those select few are related to the NEMA president. When the BCMF organizes a society and meetings here in Dawson creek we will be there.

    Signed tired of the Dawson Creek nepotism

  7. Earlene September 26, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    Very true Metis 2012, I forgot my conversation with Sharon Payou last year as to why I never been hearing of any meetings since 2008 when I joined. She told me I never paid my 5.00 … 😛

    Stay tuned I believe there is discussions regarding a BCMF meeting soon in Dawson Creek

  8. Metis 2011 September 26, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Thank you Earlene, we look forward to the BCMF meeting in Dawson Creek. I read the provincial government letter to Keith Henry and cannot believe that the province recognizes the MNBC as a provincial representative. It is reported only in estimate 120 attended the Metis Nation BC AGM? It would also be assumed that certain governance controls(ie. consultation) would be forthcoming that the province must ensure towards its recognition as a tripartite agreement holder? Currently it seems the province and federal counterparts would rather pass off their fiduciary duty to a body that is doing a good job of subduing their own citizens. The abuse continues by governments, now it is sanctioned by its own people!

    How can a society claim to represent the province with only less than 5% voting on resolutions? I urge the BCMF to build membership to become our new provincial representatives. Our family is joining this week.

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