(Fort St. John, BC) British Columbia Métis Federation (BCMF) President Keith Henry has continued dialogue with the Fort St. John Métis Society (FJMS) board members over the past number of months to further discuss the state of the Métis Nation in BC and present a vision for a better tomorrow. The result of the ongoing dialogue and meetings was that the FJMS board voted by majority, six out of seven with one abstention, in favour of signing the Statement of Cooperation with the BCMF during a board meeting held October 4th, 2011.
FJMS is another major Métis Chartered Community that was previously aligned with the MNBC as one of the thirty five in British Columbia. FJMS has approximately 800 members and has been a major player in the Métis governance in British Columbia for years. FJMS was one of four recognized Métis communities in the North East Region (Region 7) under the MNBC governance system. Their decision to move forward was based on the lack of MNBC accountability, no sustainable cultural program support, no infrastructure support, and the current MNBC financial debt.
BCMF President Keith Henry stated; “Today marks the fifth community to work with and recognize the invaluable role of the BCMF. FJMS joins Kelly Lake, North Saanich, Vancouver, and Nova (from Surrey) whose leadership has also agreed that the current MNBC structure is not working and a new future must be designed. I held a number of confidential discussions with FJMS as we built the relationship and shared our respective vision to support Métis people in Fort St. John. FJMS leadership was clear that they want a provincial Métis organization that is 100% transparent and accountable. FJMS believe BCMF leadership can ensure these values. It appears FJMS came to this conclusion for a variety of reason. For instance FJMS have been told by MNBC representatives time and time again that BCMF was incorrect about the MNBC financials, that BCMF was lying, etc. FJMS leadership see today that BCMF has been correct all along, especially the forecasting of the MNBC debt, as a result of the recent MNBC Annual General Meeting and presentation of the MNBC 2010 – 2012 financial statements. The MNBC financials have proven to FJMS that BCMF has truthful and BCMF advice offers are accurate.”
FJMS President Arlene Lylyk stated; “The Fort St John Métis Society has signed a Statement of Cooperation with the BC Métis Federation. This decision was made because our board believes that we need to get back to building our Nation. The BCMF is a grassroots organization and the Board of Directors believes that the BCMF will help us build our local infrastructure. Currently, MNBC does not help support our local society by any means and our cultural and social programs are being ignored. It is clear that the current MNBC debt of over 2.5 million leaves them no room for MNBC to help support and develop any local Métis organizations like ours. We decided that the BCMF has a better plan for supporting local Métis organizations and we are confident that the BCMF leadership is strong. We hope that the provincial and federal government’s will step up to the plate to help organizations such as ours and recognize that MNBC does not work on our behalf and local communities should not have to suffer from their bad decision making. It is time to rebuild our Nation and we will work shoulder to shoulder with BCMF.”
BCMF President Keith Henry concluded; “Governments have indicated they need more proof to justify the recognition of the BCMF. I believe the signing with FJMS offers more proof. FJMS went to the recent MNBC Annual General Meeting in September and this put the final nail in the MNBC coffin for the FJMS leadership. FJMS delegates heard that there were no real MNBC answers to the financial issues and delegates continue to be misled that somehow MNBC is fine. FJMS delegates know the MNBC financial crisis was created by their lack of true Métis public accountability and grass roots decision making. The MNBC mismanagement of the last three years will ensure MNBC cannot offer any real capacity support for FJMS for years to come and it is time to move on. I am in similar discussions with several other Métis communities throughout BC who are seriously considering signing with the BCMF. I expect new agreement announcements in the near future.”
The FJMS Statement of Cooperation and other topics will be discussed on this week’s Coffee Talk show scheduled for 7:30 PM on Friday evening. Please tune in through the BCMF website by clicking on the Coffee Talk link available on the homepage (top right hand side in a red tab). Remember you can call in and share your views and ask questions 1-778-388-5013.
BC Métis Federation
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