BCMF Responds to Manitoba Métis Federation’s Baseless “Identity Fraud” Claims

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Vancouver, British Columbia, May 17, 2024 — The BC Métis Federation (BCMF) joins other Métis organizations from across the country in condemning the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) for its ongoing attempts to erase the history of all Métis communities outside of the Red River.

At a recent “Identity Summit” hosted in Winnipeg by the MMF and the Chiefs of Ontario (COO), historical and contemporary Métis communities outside of the Red River area were portrayed as fraudulent, with their members and citizens described as “pretendians.” The invite-only event did not include any Métis voices other than those from the MMF. The event focused its criticism not on the real issue of non-Indigenous people falsely self-identifying as Indigenous but instead on baseless claims that only MMF citizens are legitimate Métis.

“We see this for what it is: an attempt to create a false equivalency between Métis people and so-called ‘pretendians.’ This is not only a false comparison, but it’s a dangerous one—one that denies Métis the right to exist as a distinct, proud people with verifiable roots outside of the Red River area,” said Keith Henry, BCMF President. “It’s the sad repetition of colonial thought patterns and a scarcity mentality that pits ‘us’ against ‘them,’ and we won’t stand for it.”

Another disturbing aspect of this event is the decision by MMF leadership to invite the COO to Manitoba to push the claim that there are no Métis in Ontario. This sets the dangerous precedent of allowing First Nations to decide who they deem to be Métis in any given part of Canada and is not appropriate whatsoever. This action will only further inflame current anti-Métis sentiment in Ontario and serve to increase lateral violence from First Nations against Metis in that province.

“It is incredibly disappointing that we have come to a place in Indigenous politics in Canada where we are forced to use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to defend ourselves from colonial-style attacks by other Indigenous groups in Canada,” said Keith Henry, BCMF President.

Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) states:

1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.

2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:

(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;

(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;

(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;

(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;

(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.

The efforts of the MMF and COO to erase legitimate Métis history and identity run contrary to many aspects of Article 8 of UNDRIP. Despite many of these same Indigenous leaders espousing the importance of UNDRIP when it serves them, they seem happy to ignore UNDRIP when they are attacking Métis communities that they have decided are in conflict with their political agendas.

Ontario shaped the court’s analysis of Métis rights in 2003 in the Supreme Court of Canada in R vs Powley which proved Métis rights can and do exist in Ontario. Therefore this latest political effort from MMF and COO contradicts what the Supreme Court of Canada has already determined over 20 years ago.

The backlash against the MMF for hosting this event has been swift and strong, with both the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and the Métis Nation Ontario (MNO) releasing fact-based statements of condemnation. Many prominent Métis have voiced their outrage on social media, with some even posting images of MMF staff speaking at past MNO events in Ontario, where they spoke in support and recognition of Métis in that province.

 

The BCMF membership process is based on a strict and defendable genealogical process that ensures that full BCMF members are verifiably Métis—whether their ancestry is from the Red River or not. BCMF remains committed to supporting grassroots Métis communities in BC and their right to freedom of association. BCMF will continue to defend the rights of its members despite the ongoing attempts by MMF, COO, and some other First Nations leadership to delegitimize their existence.

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About BCMF

The BC Métis Federation (BCMF) is a non-profit association that works with Métis communities to ensure the well-being of BCMF members. Through grassroots efforts, BCMF advocates on behalf of its many members living all across the province.

Media Contact

Keith Henry, President, BC Métis Federation
P: (778) 388-5013
E: K.Henry@BCMetis.com

 

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