The BC Métis Federation writes to express our extreme disappointment in further actions by the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) this past weekend. On Saturday, May 26th President Bruce Dumont sent out an Executive Memo with the heading “MPCBC Accepts Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Aboriginal Ownership Agreement.”
This does not come as a surprise to the BC Métis Federation who has been assuming the MNBC had already been agreeing with Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project representatives. The latest correspondence from MNBC raises the following issues:
1. Under what authority does MNBC (or referred to as the MPCBC now in their letter) do they have to accept an ownership position on this project? They are a political organization and have no land base.
2. How did MNBC leaders ensure a decision making process for Métis people in BC or the community leaders MNBC represents considering the magnitude of this decision?
3. Why did MNBC provide verbal evidence that a decision would be forthcoming during hearings on this project by their Métis leaders in May 2012? Did this happen? If not why not?
4. How did MNBC ensure environmental issues were resolved for Métis people in BC in light of the recent letter by their own British Columbia Métis Assembly of Natural Resources (BCMANR) who deemed MNBC actions by President Bruce Dumont as illegal according to the MNBC Natural Resources Act and Consultation Guidelines?
There is much more in terms of the MNBC decision making process. MNBC represents their own Métis citizens and some of the Métis communities in BC, as described as Métis Chartered Communities. The BC Métis Federation urged Métis leaders to not attend the recent meeting with MNBC and Enbridge representatives May 10th and 11th because we were confident that MNBC and Enbridge would use to justify a form of further consultation and alleged support. This latest MNBC Executive Memo does exactly that although Métis leaders were not asked to vote on any resolution to support this project or not. This is one of the most undemocratic decisions ever forced on the Métis people in the history of BC.
The BC Métis Federation knows after extensive consultation that the large majority of Métis people in BC do not support the proposed Enbridge project, despite any alleged benefits which MNBC continues to describe as millions of dollars, jobs, contract opportunities, etc. According to the BC Métis Federation online survey in March 2012 and over 12 community forums between March and May 2012, there is no doubt the large majority of Métis people in BC do not support this project.
Given the growing opposition and issues facing MNBC, one must consider why MNBC would force this decision that contravenes their own laws and governance processes. MNBC is millions in debt, these leaders are leaving in a few months, and they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in “consultation” funding but have nothing to show for to demonstrate what MNBC did over the years to provide information about this project to Métis people.
BC Métis Federation is aware Enbridge set a deadline for Aboriginal communities to sign the proposed equity deal for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Aboriginal Ownership Agreement by the end of May. Ironically MNBC comes out with this letter of support and agreement only days before the end of May. MNBC does not explain why they should be the beneficiaries of any equity deal over communities and families who are impacted, as one might consider for any project now or in the future? How much will MNBC be provided in exchange for project support for this equity deal? It has been reported that other Aboriginal equity positions will provide about $300,000.00/year in income so what was MNBC’s intent for this money? This latest correspondence raises so many more questions.
The reality of this situation is MNBC misled their people about their intent of their recent May meeting, they have put their needs as an eleven member board first and foremost on all matters, this being the latest. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project is years away from any of the proposed benefits, if ever unfolding. BC Métis Federation (with support of Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society, North Saanich Michif Society, Nova Métis Heritage Association, Fort St. John Métis Society, Vancouver Métis Cultural Society, and Métis Veterans Association of BC), Cowichan Valley Métis Nation (Duncan), BCMANR, North Cariboo Métis Association (Quesnel), Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association (Williams Lake), plus so many other Métis communities have spoke out against the Enbridge project. It has also been reported that the President from the North West BC Métis Association (NWBCMA) in Terrace resigned, largely due to the request by MNBC to not proceed with a community vote on the Enbridge project due to concerns and awareness that the Métis people in Terrace would like vote against the project.
The BC Métis Federation passed a resolution against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project in April 2012 for three specific reasons:
1. There has not been proper consultation for Métis people in BC to make an informed decision.
2. Respect for First Nations and their territory who have opposed this project by the large majority.
3. The proposed benefits are not worth the environmental risk.
One of the most difficult challenges could be the negative impacts with relationships between First Nations and Métis people due to the significance of this decision. The MNBC decision confirms MNBC will be in direct conflict with First Nation communities and leaders with territories who exercise their legal jurisdiction. One must question what right any provincial non land based Aboriginal organization like the MNBC has to make this decision on lands that are not theirs? The BC Métis Federation believes Métis leaders must respect the territories of First Nations when facing decisions that could affect their lands.
The MNBC decision was made without proper consultation or even respecting the processes within the MNBC structures (outlined in their Natural Resources Act or Consultation Guidelines). MNBC citizenship card holders need to examine their options carefully now. MNBC citizenship card holders could send a letter to MNBC board members expressing your displeasure, terminating your cards, etc. Furthermore MNBC has other obligations to their Métis Chartered Communities that the BC Métis Federation believes have not been met in this situation, as well as many others. Therefore it may important for MNBC Métis Chartered Communities to consider terminating their charter agreements in light of such ongoing MNBC decision making that appears to defy common sense and logic.
The BC Métis Federation has submitted information to the Joint Review Panel regarding the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project and will continue to seek an opportunity to be an intervenor and present further proof of the lack of proper Métis consultation in BC. Additional and important steps by the BC Métis Federation and all Métis communities can bring the alleged support of Métis people for this Enbridge project, as indicated by MNBC, into further question. Therefore I also urge other Métis community boards to pass resolutions against this MNBC decision and the Enbridge project asap in light of this development.
In closing the MNBC decision this weekend will further divide our people and clearly the eleven MNBC board members will never put the needs of our Métis people before their own. This MNBC board has continued to display mismanagement of epic proportions and this decision is just another bad example. The MNBC board members need to be all taken to task without further delay:
1. Bruce Dumont, President email@example.com
2. Dave Hodgson, Vice President firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Lissa Smith, Vancouver Island email@example.com
4. Ted Ingram, Lower Mainland firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Daniel Pitman, Thomson Okanagan email@example.com
6. Terry Anonson, Kootenay firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Annette Maurice, North Central email@example.com
8. Kim Hodgson, North West firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Dan Pope, North East email@example.com
10. Stephanie Albiston, Youth firstname.lastname@example.org
11. Donna Wright, Women email@example.com
BC Métis Federation will be holding a special conference call shortly to determine next steps. Please watch for future updates and this MNBC decision.
Time for the rest of the Métis people in BC to serious consider what you want for your future.
cc BCMF Board of Directors
Métis People of BC
MPs (British Columbia)
Yinka Dene Alliance
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
First Nation Summit
Great Bear Initiative