BC Mètis Federation Official Statement – Open Letter to the Métis Public

Attention Métis leaders and Métis people of British Columbia;

The BC Mètis Federation is providing a response in relation to the recent meeting held by the Mètis Nation British Columbia under the title “Regional Information Sessions”. The MNBC leadership and staff held their first meeting in Kamloops this past weekend according to statements on the MNBC website now posted. This letter points out a few issues we want to raise. Our first perspective is that BC Mètis Federation is disappointed that MNBC has not invited our representatives to these meetings to review the information being put forward from their MNBC perspective. There is no MNBC public posting for these meetings and it appears MNBC is working only with their membership about the delivery of programs despite the fact MNBC receives public funding for all Mètis people in BC at this point. We want to advise people that during our recent regional meetings held by BC Mètis Federation from February – May 2012 our organization invited MNBC representatives to attend each of the meetings. I want to publicly state BC Mètis Federation would be pleased to attend and ask questions or provide responses for MNBC representatives to address.

A second perspective is that these MNBC Regional Information Sessions do not appears to address the ongoing financial crisis of the MNBC according to their public statement now posted on their website. This is of major concern because as MNBC leadership and staff are being paid to attend these meetings trying to assure MNBC members that all is well, I am in receipt of students desperately waiting for MNBC to pay their outstanding tuition accounts. From the pictures of the first MNBC Regional Information Session I would assume MNBC spent several thousand dollars on travel claims for their representatives to attend. What about the priorities of paying tuitions payments that have been outstanding since this past summer?

There are many other issues but the secrecy to organize these new regional information sessions by MNBC, lack of transparency about the sale of the school, and recent MNBC newsletter that is discriminating program delivery from Mètis people in BC is unjust. Clearly BC Mètis Federation and MNBC leadership have opposing views but BC Mètis Federation continues to point out the MNBC failures and false statements as our reason for past and current frustration. Consider these facts only as a few to point from:

When MNBC leadership denied a debt recovery plan in February 2011, they have now run their internal overall debt no less than another $1.5 million and forecasted growth in this new fiscal year;

  •   MNBC did not follow their own mandated debt recovery plan

BC Mètis Federation clarified our concerns to six issues:

Mètis School – Now failed, closed, and has yet to sell despite MNBC’s claims. First MNBC claimed the school would sell midsummer. The in September MNBC staff attempted to claim the City of Abbotsford was approving rezoning despite evidence to the contrary, to the point where BC Mètis Federation posted the actual testimony on our website to prove the MNBC claims as false. The reality is today that the school has not sold and accruing interest each month.

  • Elections – We raised serious past electoral issues and the recent MNBC election in September justified our concerns. The result was MNBC had the lowest election voter turnout ever with less than 600 voters (down from over 600 in 2004). Worse yet the appointment of the Chief Electoral Officer process was not in accordance with their own laws.
  •  Catering Company – Now failed, closed despite MNBC leadership and supporters extreme defense for some time.
  • MNBC Governance Structure – The entire MNBC system is all about supporting the MNBC only and is our major concern. There is absolutely no capacity development at the community level. Do the Chartered Communities understand their legal rights and authorities? How much financial support has been provided to these Chartered Communities? It is our belief these recent MNBC sessions have been arranged to convince the community leaders and supporters that all is well and MNBC is on the right track. We ask on the right track for who? It is themselves only.   A sub point we have called into question is the continued overspending of administration by MNBC. According to their MNBC financial statements this past fiscal year MNBC once again overspent on administration by $534,616 (schedule 41). Despite any MNBC claims, the facts do not support them.
  •  Cultural Awareness – This is what our Nation must have as a priority. What has been done for our Mètis culture. MNBC recently intervened and ruined a Louis Riel Day event in Prince George and what has actually ben done?
  •  Legal Counsel – According to the 2011-2012 MNBC Financial Statements legal costs continue to be significant. We continue to question for what?

We wanted to address the Mètis public at large because over the past several years MNBC staff and leadership have proven time and time again that they are incapable of full transparency and disclosure. The six issues raised by the BC Mètis Federation have proven significant to this situation and we continue to provide a perspective and oversight to ensure Mètis people can weigh both sides of the situation. It is in the interests of MNBC leadership and their staff to claim otherwise yet year after year the results are simply not there.
This MNBC leadership manifests itself in other serious consequences;

  •  Signing on to support the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project without any community mandate.
  •  Failure to push the Provincial Government to implement the Mètis Children and Family implementation framework.
  • Failure to push the Provincial Government to address the current discriminatory policy of Section 35 rights for Mètis people.
  • Absolutely no true community infrastructure support. MNBC overspends on administration for themselves yet where is any real governance infrastructure support for their Chartered Communities?

The years of financial mismanagement mean MNBC will spend about $571,000 during fiscal year 2012-2013 just to manage the millions in debt.
In closing BC Mètis Federation continues to call on governments and our communities to better understand the consequences of this MNBC situation. MNBC has embarrassed the former Provincial Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak who public stated on a number of occasions that she was confident MNBC would balance their budget and potentially eliminate their debt. In fact this past fiscal year MNBC had their second largest loss at over $924,000.00. We urge Mètis communities and families to not forget the facts, ask the right questions, and demand clear answers. MNBC will make every effort to misled and personalize any criticisms but BC Mètis Federation stands firmly based on facts and not verbal rhetoric.

As I always state ultimately the choice is yours.

Thank you,
Keith Henry

[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Metis-People-November-27th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Letter in PDF[/ilink]

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