The BC Métis Federation was disappointed to read the latest example of gross financial mismanagement within the Aboriginal community as the Coquitlum First Nation Chief Ron Giesbrecht was paid almost a million last year (April 1st members. In a news article released last week with the media title “Harper government outraged that B.C. chief of tiny Coquitlam first nation received $900K+ in latest fiscal year” the media uncovered a major story of questionable financial pay which was posted August 1st in the Vancouver Sun.
This situation does not go over well within the non Aboriginal community in Canada, nor should these actions be acceptable within the Aboriginal community (First Nations. Inuit, or Métis). There are many factors at play and since this story surfaced last week it was a top story in the national media on TV and print for a few days. This situation has brought out many negative criticisms and reinforced false notions that Aboriginal people cannot manage their affairs, along with many other negative stereotypes and racial remarks on various news blogs.
Here is the issue I have as leader of the BC Métis Federation. If this Federal Government is outraged in this scenario, why has this same Federal Government refused to acknowledge the rampant abuse of public funds by Métis organizations such as the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and Métis National Council (MNC)? Where are their public statements of outrage when internal Government audits conducted between 2008-2012 concluded over $3.7 million in misspending and mismanagement of Government of Canada programs?
A quick review of the posted MNC 2013-2014 Financial Statements (http://www.metisnation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/MNC-Financial-Statement-2014) and one can see an insolvent organization by over $2.2 million with future liabilities of over $1.3 million from misuse of previous Health Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) funding. There are also serious questions about the claim of only $96,000 owing in this amount to AANDC in light of recent internal audits which identified approximately $1.5 million in ineligible amounts spent by the MNC from 2008-2012.
The MNBC continues to also face very serious issues of sustainability. We know that MNBC was facing at least $5.6 million insolvency as of March 31st, 2013 and MNBC also faced internal AANDC audits. These audits also identified over $2 million in misspending by the MNBC and it remains unclear what steps are being taken by the Government of Canada to recoup misspent public funds.
As I consider these issues and watch some of our Métis community blind to the seriousness of these matters, I can only understand at times why the non Aboriginal public is outraged and questions these actions. However I also am very skeptical about the motives of Government of Canada and media to selectively decide who they will vilify and bring to the public forefront. The fact is that any injustice to any Aboriginal community by any of the representatives must be addressed.
In closing I welcome your comments and excuse me if I have offended anyone. I just cannot understand why some communities are demonized at points and time, while it appears many other dysfunctional Aboriginal organizations escape public accountability and transparency. In our Métis situation we met with the Minister`s office in June and there has been no follow up, they were dismissive about the mismanagement, and truly continue to no uphold the governance and accountability framework signed with a select few Métis organizations in April of 2013.
The fact is all Aboriginal people deserve public accountability and the Government of Canada should address all issues immediately and without delay with full disclosure to the constituent group affected. In the case of Métis people across the country I strongly believe the Government of Canada has failed our people and continues to manipulate our right to self governance by propping up dysfunction false Métis organizations at all costs. Is it because these organizations support industry without community input such as the controversial pipelines facing BC and Alberta?
The facts do not lie and the proven Métis mismanagement eclipses this latest First Nation scandal by millions more.
Ever wonder why….
Thank you to the thousands of Métis people working and supporting the BC Métis Federation and our partner communities. We stand for true cultural support as well as proper consultation.
To review the story http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=10080633
Keith Henry, President
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Metis-People-August-5th-2014-Do-Metis-Count.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format[/ilink]