Métis Foster Child – Position of the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC)

Métis Communities 
BC Métis Federation Members 

Re: Métis Foster Child – Position of the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) 

Members and Partners,

The current Métis foster child fight for “SS” has hit a new low point today. The other Métis provincial representative organization Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) issued a press release late last night with a few disappointing statements http://www.mnbc.ca/features/current/m-tis-group-politicizes-the-plight-of-baby-s. First MNBC suggests BC Métis Federation is making the foster situation of “SS” political. Second the MNBC statement is now supporting the position of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) aka the Provincial Government and the Métis Commission for Children and Families BC which continue to push for the adoption relocation of “SS” to a non-Métis home in Ontario.

The MNBC statement lacks respect by not acknowledging the proper name of the BC Métis Federation, our political body and organization by name. As a political representative for Métis members we are elected officials fulfilling our due diligence, fiduciary duties and asserting Métis rights and responsibilities for the care of our Métis children and families. We are the BC Métis Federation.

The formal call for advocacy on behalf of this Métis child in care has required politicizing due to the absence of transparency of information sharing to assure all questions and concerns have been explored in this situation. There are no assurances that due diligence was done within the processes in the care of this Métis Child. The second being inclusion into processes which involve our Métis children and families through improved communications, decision-making processes at all levels.

Within British Columbia there are several active Métis Service Providers across the province, there is the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC (Métis Commission) who act on the legislative role as the “community” within the context of Métis child welfare specific matters. The questions to ask is who is the Métis Commission accountable to? Is there demonstrated equitable information sharing to anyone, are they accountable to MNBC, does the Métis Commission have a protocol agreement with MNBC to formally demonstrate committed accountability, or is it a courtesy communication. There is no relationship with the BC Métis Federation and the Métis Commission.

Who is MNBC accountable to, only its membership, or to a whole nation of Métis peoples residing within BC. When the Métis communities within BC call for assistance with this specific case and child who is responsible and for what exactly? Where are the shared values in sitting at the same table to discuss decision making within this matter? This issue is about a Métis child, we are all invested and have a responsibility to protect, govern as leaders. We have a responsibility to be transparent and accountable to our Métis people and communities, they have a right to know who is making decisions about them, how the decisions are made, and what is the process to engaging with the systems to ensure all of the Métis communities voices are heard.

In this case the BC Métis Federation is not assured that proper due diligence has resulted in the best outcomes for Baby “SS” as we refer to, rather than “S” as MNBC has referred to. The BC Métis Federation has requested the conversations with Ministries, Métis Commission and Métis Community Service Providers on this case as well as other with no productive results. We have not been satisfied that the outcomes have been thoroughly examined and due diligence has been demonstrated in the matters of Baby “SS”.

When a call for transparency and accountability become politicized then one should conclude that the necessity for media attention is required when all parties involved cannot sit at the table to discuss the best interests of our most vulnerable, our Métis children.

Therefore, one has to ask themselves why MNBC would suddenly issue this statement and use this situation to suggest BC Métis Federation is politicking this issue. The position of the BC Métis Federation is grounded on the fact that we also want what is best for the Métis and especially our Métis children. Through all of the rhetoric in the situation the overriding drive must be to do what is in the best interests of the Métis child.

The position of the BC Métis Federation has been clear in this situation since we decided to support the case in January. We want what is best for the Métis child and we demand that Métis children stay with Métis families whenever possible. This case has many layers of failures within the system and through our due diligence by our leadership we determined that there is overwhelming evidence to take immediate action to stop the tragedy.

The foster family reached out to the BC Métis Federation leadership in January because the Métis agencies set up to support these cases provided no assistance. The foster mother is a BC Métis Federation member and has been since 2014, prior to this case. When she reached out in January she provided significant information from qualified professionals who strongly disagreed with the removal of this Métis foster child. The doctors, psychologists, etc. all concluded that removal of the foster child after forming such strong family bonds over such a significant length of time would have a lifelong negative impact. After the foster family reached out, a legal member of the BC Métis Federation, our board unanimously agreed to support with any and all resources. Therefore, BC Métis Federation continues to share public information, advocate, support fund raising, and much more with the approval and support of the foster family. The overwhelming public response, media coverage, and support for the position of the BC Métis Federation and the Métis foster child has been significant.

What MNBC and the Métis Commission have done, and continue to do, is accept that their lack of due diligence has significantly contributed to cause another Métis victim of poorly managed child welfare for Métis people in BC. This case has been ongoing quietly for over a year. Not once during this time did the Métis Commission nor MNBC reach out and review the files for themselves. Not once did any of their staff ever contact the Métis foster family and ask direct questions to ensure their own due diligence. It appears that the only intervention was through the Métis Commission to intervene and convince one of five front line Métis child welfare agencies in BC, Island Métis Child and Family Services, to change their position of supporting the adoption of “SS” to the Métis foster family in July of 2015. The result was Island Métis decided to suddenly withdraw a statement of support thereby enabling MCFD to take next steps to remove this Métis child to Ontario to a non-Métis home under the notion that the Métis community supported this removal.

The significance of this mismanagement of Métis child welfare cannot be underestimated by MCFD, MNBC, Métis Commission and Métis agencies. In the current BC Supreme Court proceedings MCFD lawyers continue to suggest the Métis community is in full support to remove this foster child despite the fact BC Métis Federation has adamantly opposed and stated emphatically that these agencies and MNBC do not speak for our members nor do they have any legal relationship to provide our members services. The foster family is from our membership and has absolutely no legal relationship with MNBC.

Then ask yourself what are in the best interests for “SS?

Best interests for the Métis child:

  • The Métis foster family has done all of the ministry paper work and classes and received commendation from the MCFD for the care they have provided this Métis child
  • The Métis foster family offers a cultural home
  • The Métis foster family has raised the child since birth, there is a significant family bond now in place
  • The Métis foster family has offered to initiate her “sibling” connection which does not now exist
  • The Métis foster family is an approved adoptive home. They have many letters of reference
  • The Métis foster child’s doctors, and other specialists, warn of irreparable harm if she is moved
  • The Métis foster child is thriving and happy where she is. She has very strong bonds within the foster family
  • The Métis foster child’s birth parents have, since a letter written in March 2014 to the MCFD, pleaded to place their child with us so that they can keep in contact with her; a request that was dismissed as meaningless by MCFD

What is not in the best interests for this Métis child:

  • The Métis foster child could be taken from only home she has ever known
  • The Métis foster child could be moved across the country to people she has never met
  • The Métis foster child could face irreparable lifelong trauma and emotional scarring by separation
  • The Métis foster child could be separated from birth parents
  • The Métis foster child could be separated from only parents she has ever known
  • The Métis foster child could be separated from her current Métis community
  • The Métis foster child could be separated from her day to day Métis culture. The alleged Métis cultural plan referenced in court by MCFD lawyers offers little in terms of details. Connecting the child to active participation is key for all families. MCFD and agencies are resorting to basic workbooks at a time when the Métis families and the broad Métis community need to be reunited through the people.

How can anyone not see this? The court proceedings resume today and I am confident the MNBC press release was undertaken to demonstrate so called Métis community support for the removal. What would motivate this? MNBC is loyal to MCFD who also funds their alleged Métis children and family policy work. Is this a coincidence, I certainly do not believe so. As a result, MNBC has now assumed another irresponsible decision that could have a life time impact on “SS” who has been living with the foster family for almost 2.5 years. A Métis child MNBC or the Métis Commission have no connection, no legal mandate to represent and clearly took no time to ensure the best interests of this Métis child were protected.

MNBC has decided to twist the story of this legitimate case and there are real Métis victims here. The victims are the current Métis foster family, Métis foster child “SS”, and countless other Métis foster children whom MNBC continues to ignore and has done little over the years with MCFD to force systemic change. By this latest action MNBC has endorsed MCFD proposed actions to keep Métis children from Métis cultural events and support MCFD’s efforts to move Métis children to non-Métis homes and thereby further destroying our Métis culture and community.

In closing BC Métis Federation will fight for our members. We disagree with the position of MNBC and they do not speak for our members. They may view our efforts as political but frankly that is our mandate to represent our members. Unlike MNBC the BC Métis Federation will continue to do so in this situation and all others. MNBC is certainly not qualified to endorse the MCFD position of best interests of this child and neither is BC Métis Federation. That is why we reviewed what the qualified professionals stated to support our position. In this point, one of many, there is overwhelming evidence by proper professionals regarding separation effects, notwithstanding the potential Métis cultural loss as a result of any move.

We will fight this issue and MNBC has no mandate and should have remained silent. Their statement is an attempt to deflect the case and bring their politics into this situation against the work of the BC Métis Federation. To endorse MCFD at this point as court resumes today speaks to the unethical and irresponsible leadership of this organization for the MNBC members and anyone associated with these values. The MNBC motivations were also likely a result of back room conversations with MCFD who provides funding and is under intense scrutiny now as a result of the work by the foster family, legal counsels, and the BC Métis Federation.

I pray this latest development will not hurt “SS”. We will continue to fight for our members to demand Métis children’s best interests are truly paramount to any future position.

Thank you,

Keith Henry
President, BC Métis Federation

[ilink url=”http://bcmetis.com/wp-content/uploads/BC-Metis-Federation-Letter-re-MNBC-Press-Statement-in-Case-of-SS-Gebruary-16th-2016.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]

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