(Vancouver, BC) – In January of 2013 the BC Metis Federation filed a discrimination complaint against the Province of British Columbia and as of May 8th that complaint has been recognized and will be heard by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
The BC Métis Federation has been attempting to have the Province of British Columbia and the Federal Government recognize its representative role since June 2011 when the organization was officially formed. Since this time numerous letters have been sent to the Provincial and Federal Governments, primarily through the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation/Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, but the Provincial and Federal Governments have continued to ignore the requests showcased through dismissive correspondences.
One of the key issues claimed in the BC Human Rights Tribunal application by the BC Métis Federation was in light of the Métis Child and Family Framework Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the lack of support to implement the agreement. The MOU agreement was signed February 27th, 2011 signed between the MNBC, the Province (as represented by the Ministry of Child and Family Development), and the Métis Commission for Children and Families in BC only. The MOU includes the signatures of five (5) Métis children and family service delivery agencies. One of the activities that was completed as a result of the MOU was an extensive review and consultation which designed a new Metis Service Delivery Framework BC Métis Federation was surprised in October 2012 when a letter was sent by the Métis Commission from Children and Families in BC announcing that despite initial investment by the Province in development of the plan that there was no future funding for implementation. The BC Métis Federation immediately wrote to the Minister to address which has further reinforced the discrimination of public policy and representation on such a critical issue for many of our Métis families in BC. BC Métis Federation was requesting their standing in such MOU discussions as well as a better understanding of the reason why the Province of British Columbia would not support Métis children and families consistent with recommendations they invested to develop.
The lack of meaningful engagement by the Province is an important point if you review the language in the MOU regarding Métis children and family service. The agreement suggests MNBC represents all 60,000 self identified Métis people and this is not the case. The MNBC represents only their MNBC citizenship card holders and their own materials proves they only provide services for Métis people who meet their identification of how they define Métis people. According to MNBC public statements, we estimate are only about 7500 MNBC members at this time which is only about 10% of the figure provided in this MOU.
Tribunal Member Murray Geiger-Adams responded by letter on March 14th 2013
On May 8th 2013 the BC Human Rights tribunal agreed to investigate the BC Metis Federation discrimination complaint with this extract from their letter:
BC Metis Federation President Keith Henry stated; “We have sent scores of letters to the governments of BC and Canada and 140 pages of documentation to the BC Human Rights Tribunal in our attempt to have the Metis people we represent included in all policy and industry areas that affect their communities and families. In the end it was only by filing a violation of the Human Rights Code that our members are able to have their voices heard and their needs for funding responded to in a timely manner.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry added; “The BC Metis Federation will ensure the needs of our members, partner organizations, and partner communities are met with all levels of government and industry. Métis people have Canadian Constitutionally protected Section 35 rights, which includes an Aboriginal right to self govern. It is not the place of government or industry to dictate who Métis people have representing their interests. Governments have been steadfast in suggesting that MNBC is the only representative governing body for Métis in BC. This is not true and MNBC has lost many members and communities as a result of many internal issues. MNBC continues to politicize their programs and services and is limiting who can access employment and training, youth funding, etc while using publicly funded programs that were to be accessible to all Métis people in BC. MNBC outright denies access unless you have an MNBC card for almost all employment and training funding and uses youth funding programs only for communities who support their political agenda.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded; “This BC Human Right Tribunal decision is a giant step forward in revealing the rampant discrimination ongoing against Metis people throughout BC perpetrated by industry, government and MNBC. The facts are well prepared and we are confident in our presentation backed up substantial information. Ultimately we hope governments will realize the significance of this situation and immediately take action to find new solutions regarding policy and engagement. Allowing public funding to support such MNBC political manipulation cannot be allowed any further.”
For more information about the BC Métis Federation please go to www.bcmetis.com.
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis