Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) Minister Honourable Carolyn Bennett recent praise of Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) President Bruce Dumont is a testament to how out of touch Governments are with our Métis people in BC.
It appears Federal politicians ignore Dumont’s legacy of severe MNBC financial mismanagement, his personal attempt to remove communities over the years, suppression of the fight for Métis rights and so much more as he leaves for Métis people and communities in BC.
Minister Bennett refers to “strong partnerships” and “improved economic development and employment opportunities” but this contradicts realities on the ground for Métis with inequity and continued poverty for people and communities.
Bruce Dumont has not advocated for economic self determination, land rights and the exercise of Métis jurisdiction for communities and deployment of Métis laws as the basis of Métis identity and for control of economic development, resources and the environment.
Ask yourself as a Métis person what has changed for the Métis in BC or the organization MNBC as he departs? Under his leadership MNBC is left millions in debt and their overall funding has decreased drastically and highly ineffective. Some argue MNBC is just an agent for the Provincial and Federal Government strategies to minimize our fight for true rights/reconciliation.
There has been almost no cultural investments or support on real issues. People wanted to believe he had the right look; a respected elder, he wore a sash, he said a few words. He would even get up and jig at events for government and industry. But below this image was a leader who lacked courage to account for poor decisions, empathy to bring Métis people together and all he did was for himself both personally and financially.
Reading between the lines, the Trudeau government appears to support the colonial view that Métis “exist” because of Canada.
Many have attempted to call into question Métis title (sovereignty) grounded in land, as the basis for Métis ‘rights,’ as well as to distort Louis Riel’s message of ‘partnership.’
Minister Bennett would do well to read history and the words of Métis leaders like Louis Riel. Riel was a sophisticated political philosopher attempting to articulate a new relationship between Métis people and the Canadian state. Read academic Ian Angus for insight on the perspective of Louis Riel and Provisional government in 1870 in primary document. Métis self government and self determination was grounded in land:
Angus: “…a capability for self-defence shows that they have successfully inhabited the land. It is this inhabitation that grounds their existence as a people and thus their right to choose their own government, a connection directly asserted in another document: ‘We possess to-day, without partition, almost the half of a continent. The expulsion or annihilation of the invaders has rendered our land natal to its children ’(Riel,‘ To the Inhabitants of the North and the North-West,’ 78).”
Angus: “Inhabitation of the land allows one to pass it on to one’s children, to whom it becomes a native land. These children, whatever the origins of their parents, become a people through such inhabitation over generations; it is this which grounds their right to self-government.”
Instead of coercion and force, the BCMF calls for a negotiated co-existence based upon mutual recognition and Métis title (sovereignty) grounded in land, as the basis for Métis ‘rights.’
Mr. Dumont’s legacy will never be forgotten by many in the Métis community but not for good reasons suggested by INAC Minister Bennett.