The following letter was sent to Bruce Dumont, President, Métis Nation British Columbia, the Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Province of British Columbia, and the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of Canada.
The British Columbia Métis Federation (BCMF) writes today to raise further questions and concerns regarding major new developments facing the MNBC and the appearance of continued support by both the federal and provincial governments.
BCMF sent a correspondence dated October 5th to each of your respective offices. In the BCMF letter we identify that the stated MNBC organizational debt is not $2.3 million as reported by MNBC as of March 31st, 2011. The additional information released by the MNBC regarding one of their alleged economic development ventures, the 2010-2011 Métis School in Abbotsford Financial Statements, clarified that the Métis School also realized a debt in 2010-2011 and in affect increased the overall MNBC debt to over $2.5 million.
Today MNBC has yet to provide any financial statements for their other economic development company called Meet-So Catering Services Limited. A number of Métis people question how MNBC funded the establishment of this catering service and moreover how was this company going to be successful? I assume your officials have reviewed the MNBC Debt Recovery Plan Quarter 1 progress report released in September 2011 and there is significant language about how economic development ventures, such as the Métis School and Meet-So Catering Services Limited, will use their anticipated profits to support the MNBC growing organizational debt. However as of Friday, October 14th MNBC suspended all Meet-So Catering Services Limited operations as MNBC finally admitted Meet-So Catering was not meeting revenues in a letter dated October 19th but released at noon on October 20th.
This was not a surprise the BCMF and our members and supporters. Consider how MNBC leadership and management strategically handled this situation to better understand the public manipulation they are prepared to undertake. MNBC recently held their Annual General Meeting at the end of September and there was no indication to delegates that Meet-so Catering Services Limited was about to be suspended only two weeks after this important governance event that happens only once a year. MNBC leadership and management give the impression that MNBC was financially stable to delegates and Meet-So Catering Services Limited is sustainable and will provide a bright future. How can anyone support a Métis organization that lacks a true understanding of public accountability? MNBC them sends out a letter entitled “A Message From Your President” only after BCMF issues a press release early on October 19th questioning the actual closing of Meet-So Catering Services Limited? Now suddenly there was a quarterly review only after three months of operations and MNBC has to shut down Meet-So Catering Services Limited? MNBC did not provide any information to Métis delegates about any potential financial concerns regarding Meet-So Catering Services Limited and these facts all speak for themselves.
Ironically on October 14th, 2011 the MNBC sent a public press release (available on their website) entitled Métis Nation British Columbia has a renewed sense of confidence! A person reading this correspondence would be provided quite a positive impression of the MNBC despite growing organizational debt, closing of Meet-So Catering Services Limited, and inability to make timely program payments. On this note MNBC and their youth committee has approved a number of youth projects to be distributed to 14 organizations in 2011-2012, funded by Heritage Canada, but to date MNBC has not provided initial payments to many, if not all, of these youth projects.
The MNBC press release also makes a number of other inaccurate statements that I bring to each of your attention. First MNBC Treasurer Bob Trumbley is quoted as stating “What it means for MNBC is we can take this designation to the City of Abbotsford to appeal our outstanding property taxes” regarding recognition by the Federal Government for the Métis Skills and Employment Center as a school. With the utmost respect to the Federal Government this MNBC statement is confusing. Post secondary education and institutions in BC are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Government. Such private institutions, which the Métis Skills and Employment Center is, comply with PCTIA or rather the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC and follow the PCTIA Act. The relationship for property taxes must be addressed on a case by case basis and is the jurisdiction of the City of Abbotsford. The City if Abbotsford has already identified how organizations can seek property tax exemption and there are a number of charitable organizations as well as some non-profits that can qualify. The City of Abbotsford appears to review each applicant on an annual basis and to date neither MNBC nor the Métis Skills and Employment Center has ever applied. On this note BCMF has obtained a copy of a City of Abbotsford Council Report dated September 26th regarding their recent assessment of applicants requesting property tax exemption. It appears the City of Abbotsford deliberated on October 10th, 2011. MNBC did not file any appeal submission as required in writing and their alleged appeal was not included for the City Council to review according the September 26th information available online.
These are yet further examples of MNBC’s inability to be transparent about the actual financial state of their affairs and the continued deception to the Métis community, governments, and public at large. MNBC makes no efforts to clarify these situations and their current communications do not provide accurate information.
BCMF continues to ask all parties what is being done to address this serious financial crisis. Can anyone explain how the Métis people of BC will ever recuperate the millions in debt caused by the serious mismanagement that carries on each day? BCMF continues to urge governments and MNBC to take immediate action to ensure Métis people are not further negatively impacted.
In closing BCMF ask governments to seriously reevaluate who they believe represents the interests of Métis people in BC. BCMF has signed another Statement of Cooperation (totaling 6 to date) legitimizing our role as a representative organization for all Métis people in BC. By contrast MNBC has provided governments the perception that their community organizations are strongly behind them. This simply is no longer true. Vancouver Métis Cultural Society has terminated their relationship with MNBC over a month ago yet still appears on the MNBC website. North Cariboo Métis Association refused to attend the recent MNBC AGM and asked their letter to be read to the delegates, MNBC leadership and management chose not to. Other Métis Chartered Communities like Merrit District Métis Association and Boundary Métis Local Association, two other current MNBC chartered communities, are not incorporated and have not been for years. For Example, the Boundary Métis Local Association has not filed annual reporting since 2003 and is not in good standing, a requirement of the MNBC designed Métis Charter Agreement. The MNBC board used this exact clause, that being not in good standing as a nonprofit corporation, to remove another Métis Chartered Community in 2009 from Prince Rupert. Does this seem fair to anyone? Regardless Merrit and Boundary community leaders are “friends” of current MNBC leadership so MNBC provides them special privileges such as travel as paid community representative delegates, project funding although they are unincorporated legal entitles, etc.
The facts keep building and building and BCMF will continue our efforts to rebuild the Nation one person and community at a time.
Provincial and Federal Governments are to ensure the Métis people in BC and their programs and services, as limited as they may be, are protected. Given the overwhelming evidence of MNBC mismanagement, political manipulation, and outright deception we ask how any Minister can defend not taking more decisive action. BCMF has predicted these outcomes for years and yet the obvious financial fall is being allowed to continue.
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