The following letter was sent by the BC Métis Federation to the provincial and federal governments…
Dear Federal and Provincial Representatives;
The BC Métis Federation writes to your attention to request clarification regarding the announcement yesterday under the title; “First Communities Announced for Off Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan.” This announcement comes as a surprise provided a number of key points we write to bring to your attention that will be described herein.
First off any effort by governments to support urban Aboriginal people address serious socio-economic challenges is an important and positive step. However, the governance and who represents the Métis community in the five identified first communities requires immediate clarification from governments. The communities of Vancouver, Surrey, Duncan, Kamloops, Duncan, and Prince George each has a significant Métis population but the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) does not represent the interests of many of these Métis people. Moreover the press release is once again incorrect as MNBC does not have a community who works with MNBC in Vancouver, one of the five key locations. In fact the Vancouver Métis Citizens Society chose in September 2011 to disassociate with MNBC. The MNBC press release suggests MNBC has “chartered communities” in each of these locations which is simply not true.
Second BC Métis Federation has connected with governments on several previous occasions to inform about the shifting Métis governance political realities in British Columbia. BC Métis Federation has partner communities in Vancouver (Vancouver Métis Citizens Society), Surrey (nova Métis Heritage Association), Prince George (Northern Interior Métis Cultural Society), and several members and agreements with agencies who support the socio-economic interests of Métis people. This includes Kikino Métis Child and Family Services in Prince George, White Buffalo Aboriginal and Métis Health Services Society, and Prince George Urban Aboriginal Justice Society. We question why BC Métis Federation, our partner communities, and partner service delivery agencies are not included in this new initiative.
Third and very important final issue is the clear role with Métis children and family needs yet the Provincial Government, through Minister of Child and Family Development Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, has yet to explain why the Phase Three of the Métis Child Welfare Service Delivery Framework has not been funded by the Province? BC Métis Federation still waits for follow up from the Minister’s letter dated November 6th, 2012. Our expectation was for reconsideration to fund the framework. We question why the Provincial Ministry is now involved in this new planning process after such extensive previous investments and work throughout British Columbia has already been completed to assess the needs? The implementation of the framework plan would also contribute to meeting the needs for Métis children and families in these five locations. There is a existing Métis child and family agencies in the lower mainland Prince George, Kamloops who are working together with the Métis Commission for Children and Families of British Columbia. Métis child and family needs are paramount to addressing socio-economic gaps that remain without support by MNBC at any level. Today MNBC has not met effectively or consulted with the Métis service providers while now playing a key role in this process which appears to be a replication of significant work already completed? To that end BC Métis Federation has appointed Métis Commission Deborah Canada as our new Métis Children and Family advisor. Dr. Deborah Canada is well known Métis children and family services expert and is intimately involved in the professional service delivery.
There are solutions that we urge are immediately reconsidered; engage the proper Métis community leadership in this process, recognize the legitimate self governing role of BC Métis Federation as mandated by our membership to support their socio-economic interests, and have the Métis service delivery agencies at the table to enhance and better align strategic ways to better serve all Métis people in these locations. There also needs to be immediate funding by the Province to support Phase Three of the Métis Child Welfare Service Delivery Framework.
Overall we urge immediate action to be more inclusive as MNBC is a political entity who does not have the mandate to represent all of the Métis interests in these locations. MNBC membership is political in nature and MNBC has continued to discriminate existing services which questions their ability to represent the total Métis populations in these locations. If MNBC chartered communities from the four other locations (Surrey, Kamloops, Duncan, and Prince George) have mandated their participation we respect this. However we question what any MNBC role is in light of their current political and financial sustainability challenges in British Columbia.
Ultimately BC Métis Federations wants to ensure all Métis people are supported and there are already a number of Métis agencies who can make a difference. MNBC politics cannot be allowed to interfere in meeting the needs of all Métis people.
I welcome an opportunity to meet with your officials and identify solutions.
BC Métis Federation