Letter sent earlier today…
Grand Chief Ed John
First Nations Summit (FNS)
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould
BC Assembly of First Nations
Re: Federal Court Ruling Regarding Métis and Non Status Indians
Dear Grand Chief John, Grand Chief Phillip, and Regional Chief Wilson-Raybould, I write to request an opportunity to engage with each of you as First Nation leaders in British Columbia in light of the Federal Court ruling earlier this week in the Daniels v. Canada that affects Métis and Non Status Indians throughout Canada. The case presents significant challenges in British Columbia because the ruling confirmed three basic principles:
- Métis and Non-Status Indians (MNSI) are Indians under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867,
- The Crown owes to Métis and Non-Status Indians a fiduciary duty as Aboriginal peoples,
- Canada must negotiate and consult with the Métis and Non-Status Indians, on a collective basis through representatives of their choice, with respect to their rights, interests and needs as Aboriginal peoples.
BC Métis Federation leaders are concerned that this latest court victory, although this case will likely be appealed by the Federal Government, will create significant challenges to future First Nation/Métis/Non Status relationships in British Columbia. This could include debates over funding resources and allocations such as Aboriginal consultation and service delivery for health care, education, etc. This potential outcome could include a division of existing resources that do not already meet current First Nation needs for any on reserve community. Consequently BC Métis Federation is extremely concerned about how the current Métis and Non Status Indians throughout BC are already interpreting this latest court victory, as calls and inquiries to our office have greatly increased. BC Métis Federation was established by Métis people for Métis people in 2011 and we currently represent Métis membership of approximately 6300. BC Métis Federation membership is through direct individual membership and/or Métis community organizations we have reached agreements with in Vancouver, North Saanich, Surrey, Prince George, Williams Lake, Fort St. John, Prince Rupert, Kelly Lake, and Dawson Creek.
One of our core values is respect for First Nations jurisdiction. Therefore, BC Métis Federation has been a proud partner with First Nations throughout BC as our leaders and members have supported a number of First Nation issues such as supporting the Musqueam First Nations through their disputed land issue in 2012, signing the Save the Fraser Declaration with many First Nation partners in December 2012, and currently supporting the Idle No More rallies throughout BC. We believe these shared First Nation and Métis values, along with many others, reinforce the importance of future discussions.
BC Métis Federation believes an ethical, proactive approach and discussions with First Nation leaders is paramount to consider a collective approach in the future in light of this major legal decision. We believe a meeting to begin a relationship would greatly benefit the future for all Métis, First Nations, and Non Status Indians. We know the future remains unclear in light of this situation, but we also know Federal Government officials will likely try to interpret for the urban Aboriginal community and complicate and confuse the situation worse.
I look forward to future discussions given the significance of this latest legal development. I hope serious consideration will be provided and a future meeting scheduled to ensure a productive future to better understand how we can all work together for the betterment of our communities. Key issues of Métis identification and other related matters must be discussed on a timely basis.
cc BC Métis Federation Board Members
BC Métis Federation Statement of Cooperation Communities
BC Métis Federation Memorandum of Understanding Agencies
BC Métis Federation Members
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-FNs-Leaders-January-10th-2013-1.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this in PDF format.[/ilink]