Métis Bypassed in Advanced Education as Premier Politicizes 2014 Aboriginal Day

Aboriginal day 2014 festivities was yet another unfortunate example of discrimination by the Province against BC Métis people, over 7300 aboriginal people and member communities who call BC their home.

Premier Christy Clark took the occasion on aboriginal day to pretend that all is well for thousands of Métis people, in spite of national pressure spilling out into the national media suggesting otherwise and a pending human rights case at the national level.

The Provincial Liberal government has a long history of limiting and restricting Métis identity through their policies. This has been well documented on the BC Métis Federation website through the government’s one-window approach in support of the Métis Nation of BC (MNBC) as their favored Métis organization, ongoing MNBC financial and program mismanagement, and the Provincial government’s inability to act in ways that benefit all Métis in this province.

Furthermore, the Provincial government by their support of MNBC and affiliates favor a narrow pathway toward racial ‘rights based’ structures and dependency funding arrangements that support their preferred political ideology. Their continued politicization of Métis national and regional identity subverts the historic right of Métis people, communities and nations to self determine, self govern and be self sufficient.

In a quote from the Vancouver Sun by Tiffany Crawford in the article entitled B.C. sanctions $3.9 million for aboriginal programs at 11 colleges and universities, Premier Christy Clark issued a statement on National Aboriginal Day on Saturday, saying it’s a great and proud day that “we can all celebrate” together. “Long before British Columbia was a province, aboriginal people shaped our history, geography, and economy — and they’re playing a key role in moving us forward today,” she said, in the statement. “We continue to foster and strengthen partnerships with aboriginal people in British Columbia, and place great value in those relationships.” The Vancouver Sun article stated, “to mark National Aboriginal Day, the provincial government on Saturday said it will give 11 of B.C.’s colleges and universities more than $3.9 million for aboriginal programs. Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk said the money will go to programs that will enhance aboriginal learners’ post-secondary education and training experiences. He said, in a statement on Saturday, that the funding supports the Aboriginal Service Plans, which are developed co-operatively by post-secondary institutions and aboriginal communities, The plans are part of the ministry’s Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Training policies launched in 2012, in a bid to increase the percentage of aboriginal youth going into post-secondary education to 90 per cent from the 2011/12 rate of 67 per cent.” In conclusion, Over 7300 people and partner communities and many more Métis outside of Clarks preferred Métis organization have excluded from any chance at real ‘partnerships’ Clark so improperly refers to. Clark states that aboriginal people are “playing a key role in moving us forward’, all the while blatantly excluding and discriminating.

BC Métis Federation as a governing organization is based on the power and legitimacy of their constituent Métis people and communities. The Province ignores community legitimacy and consent and marginalizes these communities to the fringes of British Columbian society. Clark and her Ministry make public statements and education funding announcements without consulting significant Métis people and communities through their representative organizations. Her Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk talks of ‘service plans’ that are ‘developed cooperatively’ between the institutions and aboriginal communities, but Métis communities in the designated “out-group” have never been consulted with about any of the ministry planning.

Premier Clark attempts to curry favour in the court of public opinion and her actions can only be construed as false political rhetoric and further discrimination. This is especially troubling because advanced education is where Métis are provided opportunities to construct meaning and create a language for inclusion, tolerance and partnerships and vital communities. Instead of a marketplace for ideas and providing funding for all, Premier Clark employs education dollars and policies as tools for coercion and discrimination.

It is time for Premier Clark to demonstrate real leadership by meaningful negotiation. In a broader sense, he Premier purports to talk of meaningful consultation in matters of economic development like the latest pipeline flashpoint in BC. But Premier Clark’s actions on Saturday show that her words are lip service. This inconsistency is obvious to all stakeholders.

Despite the Premier and her Minister’s rhetoric of ‘enhanced experiences’ for Métis learners, on Saturday, thousands of Métis learners and partner communities were prevented from a truly critical and meaningful education process. Instead, Premier Clark cherry-picks who she ‘values’ for crass political reasons. The idea of ‘Inclusion’ is in factan indigenous value that the Premier outright dismisses.

There was no reason for thousands of Métis to ‘celebrate’ along with Christy Clark on this past Aboriginal Day.

The status quo is unacceptable and this matter of injustice and lack of choice and consent will yet be resolved.

[ilink url=”[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/Thousands-of-Métis-Bypassed-As-Premier-Clark-Politicizes-Aboriginal-Day-June-2014.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Article in PDF[/ilink]
[ilink url=”[ilink url=”http://www.vancouversun.com/news/sanctions+million+aboriginal+programs+colleges+universities/9963084/story.html” style=”download”]Vancouver Sun News Story-BC sanctions 3.9 million for aboriginal programs[/ilink]

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