The following is a letter from Keith Henry, BC Métis Federation President, to the editor of the Terrace Standard newspaper in response to recent, inaccurate public statements made by the Métis Nation of BC.
Letter to the Editor,
I am writing in my role as the BC Métis Federation President in response to the inaccurate public statements by the non profit organization Métis Nation BC.
Specifically in the paragraph:
“The Métis Nation BC describes itself as the representative of Métis people under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution which sets out the Métis as being one of three recognized Indigenous groups…”
Métis Nation BC is 1 of 2 provincial Métis representative organizations in BC and they do not represent several BC Métis Federation members who reside in Terrace or northwest BC. BC Métis Federation has an estimated 6000 members, a significant number in northwest BC, and we work closely with our local partner community Skeena River Métis Community Association in Terrace. Local Métis leadership included long-time residents of Terrace such as Rene Therrien, Rosanne Forget, Elizabeth Pearce and many others who have chosen not to recognize the Métis Nation BC.
We applaud any investments to support Indigenous community capacity in Terrace but the BC Métis Federation continues to work to ensure our Métis culture survives, including understanding the history of how our Métis people came to be in this area. In fact we continue to lead new research about the Pacific Northwest and provide the only Métis cultural support for the public Métis cultural music festival in Terrace since 2016, that being the Skeena Valley Music Festival hosted by the Skeena River Métis Community Association.
It is deeply concerning to see these ongoing public statements and misrepresentation by organizations such as the Métis Nation BC. The fact is Métis Nation BC does not represent all Métis people throughout BC, including Terrace.
The fact that this organization thinks buying property in Terrace will somehow lead to Métis cultural survival or is community supported without a clear mandate by Métis people in Terrace should concern all levels of governments. Métis Nation BC has a long history of poor business decisions and any development where they simply try to advance purchases without local Métis support or inclusion seems counter to the concept of Indigenous reconciliation for or Métis people or basic good governance.
For the grass roots Métis people in BC, we will continue to focus on the incredibly important job of trying to save our Michif language from total extinction and ensure cultural revitalization through our local Terrace community partner at the Skeena River Métis Community Association.
BC Métis Federation will support future cultural events to reconnect our families and we hope readers will come and learn together at the Métis music festival in August 2024.
BC Métis Federation