Dear Premier Clark,
The BC Métis Federation is seeking your immediate intervention in the Métis child foster case of “SS”. The position of the BC Métis Federation is that our community demands that our Métis child from our community is immediately returned to the care and protection of the family that has customarily adopted SS and sanctioned by our community. We exercise our jurisdiction consistent with our Constitutionally protected rights and international laws on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This letter today sent to your attention has been triggered by new public statements reported yesterday in the media (Monday, September 26th) whereby the Ministry and Children and Family Development (MCFD) is maintaining their position and will move SS to Ontario Thursday, less than 48 hours away. Moreover, the media statements included comments from the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC (MCCFBC) which we strongly disagree with.
BC Métis Federation’s mandate is to support our members and communities on all issues including advocacy for the protection of our Métis children and families. We have absolutely no connection with MCCFBC nor any of the other Métis children and family service agencies funded by MCFD in British Columbia. Over the years we have requested to work with MCCFBC and Métis agencies but these agencies have discriminated and ignored for calls to ensure BC Métis Federation was included in Métis child and family services in British Columbia. This case is an example of what happens in the absence of proper Métis governance and protocol.
MCCFBC was created years ago under the vision that this organization would support the protection of Métis culture through all aspect of child welfare in British Columbia. MCCFBC was to be an agency to support Métis communities and families, non-political but ensure accountability to the Métis communities throughout BC. MCCFBC is identified as the legislative representative in Provincial legislation but this organization has failed and continues to fail our families and has absolutely no legal mandate with our organization. In January 2016 the BC Métis Federation reached out to MCCFBC and requested their support for the SS case for our members. Attached is their briefing note dated January 18th and according to MCCFBC, they suggest that they supported this decision to remove our Métis child SS from our community and purport to be fully aware of the situation. I personally discussed this outrageous position with MCCFBC at that time and made it clear that BC Métis Federation would never support the removal of any of our Métis children from our community to any non-Métis home given the facts we were aware of. I also made it clear MCCFBC may be the designated representative in BC legislation for MCFD but this does not override our Aboriginal right to self-governance or jurisdiction and that our community must have prior knowledge and must consent in such a major decision.
Ironically in the recent public statements from MCCFBC they criticized the Office for the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) and asserted their role as the Métis community. MCCFBC is not a Métis community. MCCFBC is not a function of Métis self-governance, they were created to support our communities and have faced major issues over the years; poor financial management, ineffective support for our communities, refusal to include communities, etc.
Premier the actions and solutions now proposed in the media are absolutely outrageous. MCCFBC and MCFD are both directly responsible for failing the Métis cultural interests of our child SS and respecting our jurisdiction. The statements by MCCFBC seem to suggest they did not have all of the information this week while in January 2016, over 8 months ago, they assured our organization that they were fully aware and approved this adoption. I know first-hand MCCFBC has had almost no conversations with our Métis foster family/custom adoption family, has never met SS and certainly made no attempts to consult with our community about such a major decision.
For their statements MCFD is attempting to suggest there will be future changes. The future changes proposed in the media statements only reinforce our major concern into the future given the lack of accountability and inclusion from MCCFBC and MCFD with the BC Métis Federation and our members. MCFD and MCCFBC do not respect our jurisdiction or laws. The only support BC Métis Federation and our family has received was from the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY). RCY actions have only focused on the best interests of SS and they were objective throughout the process. They maintained contact and have been straight forward with their communications. This is in stark contrast to MCCFBC who we have not heard from since January 18, 2016.
However, regardless of the MCCFBC and MCFD dysfunction and recognition of their failures in the media for Métis children in BC we must not allow the tragic removal of SS. There is still time to stop this decision, return SS to our Métis community, and ensure that her best interests, including Métis culture, are protected and respected.
We demand our Métis child is immediately returned to our community before Thursday. MCFD efforts to suggest more support for MCCFBC in the media should be strongly examined by Provincial Government leadership given the absolute failure for SS and our Métis community.
I am requesting an immediate meeting to explore how we can all move forward together and correct this tragic mistake together. I believe Premier Clark that you care about all Aboriginal peoples in British Columbia. This is a case where we must all put aside politics and push for the best interests of our Métis child who the system has failed. We can correct this and there is time.
I hope we can arrange an immediate call or meet in person without delay. I can be reached by phone 1-778-388-5013 or email email@example.com to explore next steps and correct this tragedy.
Premier Clark we need your support to intervene and time is of the essence. I only hope and pray you and your cabinet colleagues appreciate the significance of this situation. Métis people from across Canada are engaging on this issue, British Columbians are engaging on this issue, the public support is massive and there is no question that the large majority support this Métis child remain with her customarily adoptive parents, her family who she has come to love. The relationship with the siblings can be worked out with better plan and far less trauma for our community.
cc Susanne Anton, Justice Minister and Attorney General for BC
Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister for Child and Family Development
Honourable John Rustad, Minister for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
BC Métis Federation Board
BC Métis Federation Members
Eva Coles, CEO, Metis Commission for Children and Families of BC
Encl. MCCFBC Letter to BCMF re S January 18th, 2016
MCCFBC Release 2016 Metis Toddler