The BC Métis Federation is a provincial Métis representative organization established in June of 2011 and has recognition agreements with Métis communities from Fort St. John, Surrey, Vancouver, North Saanich, and Kelly Lake, while continuing to meet with several other Métis communities and negotiating representative relationships. BC Métis Federation has also reached agreements with the Métis Veterans Association – BC and other service delivery organizations. The BC Métis Federation has initiated a new provincial Métis membership card in September 2011 and continues to receive membership applications from all over British Columbia while recognizing thousands of members within each of the Métis communities working with the BC Métis Federation.
Therefore I am writing to bring immediate attention to your offices regarding the inadequate Métis consultation that governments and proponents have been misdirected through the organization the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). The MNBC is defined as an 11 member board and is incorporated under a non-profit society in the name of the Métis Provincial Council of British Columbia. MNBC alleges it represents all Métis people in British Columbia and this is not true. It is fair to say MNBC has established an organization that represents a portion of the Métis population but investments as it relates to the duty to consult and accommodate do not meet what we feel is the legal obligation by either government or industry entrusted to consult.
For example the Métis community, regardless of any provincial affiliation to MNBC or the BC Métis Federation, has indicated an overwhelming opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines provided MNBC approximately $250,000.00 between April 1st, 2009 – March 31st, 2011, or rather two MNBC fiscal years. MNBC has yet to disclose what financial resources have been provided by Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines or the government between April 1st, 2011– March 31st, 2012 but we anticipate substantial additional project financial support. The issue is MNBC’s accountability in terms of financial administration of these resources to support proper consultation for Métis people in British Columbia. There have been no records or evidence provided by MNBC to support how they consulted with their membership or how the money was spent and it appears MNBC has not properly followed their consultation processes mandated in their own Natural Resource Act and Consultation Guidelines. Many strongly believe MNBC has already signed the equity deal on behalf of all Métis people in BC with Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project despite no mandate or proper internal consultation with their members. I have attached the MNBC Consultation Guidelines that provides a step by step process MNBC should have followed.
Today MNBC is now arranging what they describe as an MNBC Community Advisory Meeting May 11th and 12th. A copy of the meeting agenda is attached for your review. Once again MNBC has misled their Métis community leaders and the current Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project Joint Review Panel process where MNBC representatives stated there would be a community decision to either support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project or not in May of 2012. In contrast the attached MNBC agenda suggests a new labour market partnership and focuses on project benefits. There is no proposed debate on the agenda about whether MNBC or their Métis community leaders who attend supports the project or not. MNBC states that Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines is paying for this meeting.
Fundamentally this is our concern as MNBC continues to coop community organizations into meetings without full knowledge of the impacts to address a proper and legal duty to consult by proponents:
1. First of all MNBC does not represent all Métis communities or Métis people in BC.
2. Second the BC Métis Federation asserts that the Métis communities should be directly consulted throughout BC.
a. Therefore if Enbridge is paying for information meetings such meetings should be held in each Métis community where Enbridge and MNBC provide a full explanation of the money provided to MNBC to date
i. Why there has been no real community engagement ?
ii. How any equity benefits will be awarded?
iii. Will Enbridge pay to MNBC only? What about the communities and families most affected?
3. Third MNBC is defined as eleven non-profit board members so this raises even more questions about future equity benefits and their purpose.
I have attached a letter from the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association (CCMA) from Williams Lake to further provide evidence of the growing concerns. CCMA is refusing to attend the upcoming MNBC meeting because they recognize that such Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project decisions and information should be provided directly to the communities to ensure their Métis people provide a proper mandate for any Métis leadership.
BC Métis Federation is calling on governments and industry proponents to review accountability of how MNBC is using all project consultation resources, where is the public accountability to the Métis people of BC? Moreover BC Métis Federation has taken a position of opposition against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project on behalf of our membership for a variety of reasons, the most important including the lack of proper Métis consultation.
I strongly urge you to review our website (www.bcmetis.com) and information provided herein carefully. I welcome an opportunity to meet and discuss this matter and we are also reviewing the legal obligations both the crown and industry have in this matter as it relates to Métis people in BC.
President, BC Métis Federation
Jody Whitney, Manager Aboriginal Consultation and Regulatory Compliance Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project
BCMF Board of Directors
Métis People of BC
MPs (British Columbia)