(Vancouver, BC) The BC Métis Federation was recently made aware by the Métis National Council (MNC) website announcement of upcoming plans by the federal government to commit to an economic development agreement with the MNC. The post entitled, “Toward a Métis Economic Development Strategy,” states: “The Government of Canada and the MNC are expected to sign a Métis Economic Development Accord at MEDS III, committing the parties to develop a strategy to implement the Accord’s four priorities over the next five years.” The post also states that “The Protocol also provides a process for substantive discussions at the multilateral level to include the five westernmost Provinces when they are willing to participate. Economic development is one such area.”
The BC Métis Federation acknowledges and commends any positive movement by the government toward addressing longstanding Métis claims. At the same time however, it must be made clear that BC Métis Federation represents a broad diversity of Métis communities and ‘nations’ that are not represented by the MNC. The MNC does not have the mandate to speak on behalf of all Métis in Canada, nor do they have the authority to negotiate an agreement on behalf of all Métis of Canada. In short, the MNC represents one particular way of being Métis in Canada. In accordance with the BC Métis Federation’s philosophy of ‘many ways of being Métis’, the Federation leaders do not deny the legitimacy of the MNC to represent their members; however, they do dispute the claim that they (the MNC and affiliates) represent all Métis.
The Federal government, to its credit, has already incrementally initiated dialogue and a ‘spot at the table’ for other Métis groups in Canada, like the BC Métis Federation. These steps toward recognizing Métis people and communities in BC that are not affiliated with the MNC are significant. In January of last year as example, the BC Métis Federation began dialogue with the Government of Canada concerning west coast energy industry impacts BC Métis Federation member communities.
Furthermore, the BC Métis Federation recently announced that the Government of Canada, through Heritage Canada, approved the BC Métis Federation Michif Language project, an initiative central to Métis indigenous culture. In addition, on March 5 of this year, the Federation was invited by Natural Resources Canada to an Aboriginal Roundtable Discussion on the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act and aboriginal engagement related to the Act.
The BC Métis Federation for its part has moved toward economic self sufficiency for its member communities. The recently approved BC Métis Federation Development Corporation business plan document reflects a clear shift toward a partnership model between BC Métis Federation and its partner communities, industry, and all levels of governments.
The basis for this partnership is clearly stated in the document as follows:
“The province of BC is vastly held as crown lands by the BC government and Aboriginal Rights are matters that still remain unsolved. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that where a project might infringe on Aboriginal Rights, the crown’s duty to consult is triggered.
All projects proposed in BC by this account should involve consultation with BC Métis Federation, which represents Métis people in BC where the issue of accommodation arises, therein lies numerous opportunities for BC Métis Federation and its members to become partners in proposed projects.
The Powley case and the pending Daniels decision by the Supreme Court have created a positive environment to enable BC Métis Federation to negotiate opportunities for BCMF Development Corporation, especially in locations where longstanding Métis settlements are based. Where the Province or its proponents ignore the BC Métis Federation or its members, the potential exists for legal injunctions. It will be important for the BC government and industry proponents to seek the support of BC Métis Federation to gain the business certainty required to attract project investors.”
BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry stated; “Métis rights are taking a significant new tone with industry and government. Based on principles that support vital community formation, the Federation has been making agreements with industry. Last year, for example, BC Métis Federation negotiated an initial Mutual Benefit Agreement signed in 2014 supporting consultations with Kinder Morgan Canada and more recently, the Federation signed a term sheet with Enbridge. And, more agreements will be forthcoming.”
Based on this increasing strength of claim, the BC Métis Federation puts the Federal government on notice that the BC Métis Federation’s member communities will be asking, based on their constitutional rights, for the same kind of agreement with the Federal Government as it has negotiated with MNC. The BC Métis Federation will be drafting its own ‘economic plan’ that is consistent with the objectives of our Development Corporation. Furthermore, the BCMF expects that the Federal government will honour that request in a manner similar to the agreement signed with the MNC.
In conclusion, there is an expectation that this MEDS III agreement will not be the only such agreement the Canadian government will be signing with Metis ‘nations’ in Canada. In our view it is better that governments negotiate this now then to leave it for the future.
For more information about the BC Métis Federation also be sure to view our website at www.bcmetis.com.
Media Inquiries:Keith Henry, President BC Métis Federation #300-3665 Kingsway
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter@keithhenrymetis
You can follow the BC Métis Federation on twitter @bcmetis
[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Press-Release-March-9th-2015-MNC-Ec-Dev-Announcement.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download a PDF version of this press release.[/ilink]