BC Métis Federation’s Letter to the United Nations

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Lakshmi Puri
Assistant Secretary-General
Deputy Executive Director
UN Women

Dear Ms. Puri:

Thank you for your recent participation in Vancouver at the roundtable discussion with Indigenous leaders. As the Secretary of the BC Métis Federation, I was proud to represent our members and partner communities at this event.

At the Federation we recognize the potential for international partnerships between Indigenous peoples and the United Nations to shift the political and legal narrative in Canada from colonial understandings and practices toward greater freedom, mutual recognition and negotiated coexistence.

At the roundtable I acknowledged the participants and the United Nations officials for their stated priority in developing partnerships.

You may recall I also mentioned that for Métis, it’s about well-being on the ground in our community. I recounted the recent story in national media about actions by the Provincial Government that took a Métis girl, known in the media as “SS”, from one of our Metis family’s culture and our community. The Province of British Columbia government assumes the right to determine the well-being of our Métis children and this is wrong.

The Federation believes that it is in everyone’s interests, Indigenous to non-Indigenous alike to work with Métis people and communities in BC to find shared solutions these ongoing challenges.

The BC Métis Federation believes that the current movement in Canada toward resurgence of Metis political, legal, social and cultural perspectives can contribute to parallel international movements including human rights and gender equality in meaningful partnerships.

Many have viewed discussions through the lens of land and resource conflicts. However, legal Indigenous academic John Borrows states, “Aboriginal and treaty rights also directly implicate the health, safety and welfare of Aboriginal people’s bodies. Aboriginal and treaty rights exist to promote and protect physical survival. The health, safety and welfare of Indigenous women is obviously relevant to a community’s past, present and future well-being. Thus we must see section 35 (1) as including much broader protections – even if the courts are slow to do the same.”

Métis voices from our members and communities need to be equally heard in the United Nations international forums and sessions to shape these conversations, and benefit from visibility and what you referred to that day as “movement building advocacy” and a “knowledge hub.”

As stated I want to bring home good news to our members and communities. We await your response on how to commence this international partnership and dialogue with the United Nations and UN Women.

We need to ensure International supported laws on Indigenous rights have practical implementation in Canada to ensure our Métis children such as “SS” never can be removed again without our communities free, prior, and informed consent.


Joe Desjarlais
BC Métis Federation



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