On behalf of the BC Métis Federation and many exasperated Métis people in British Columbia, I respectfully write this letter to once again reiterate the our serious concerns regarding the mismanagement and overspending of taxpayer dollars by the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC).
As stated in my correspondence to your respective governments in March of this year, the BCMF “has made your governments acutely aware through our voluntary work about the concerns regarding the misuse of Métis program resources, increased MNBC insolvency, and dysfunctional Métis governance”. Furthermore, the BC Métis Federation predicted that the 2011-2012 Debt Recovery Plan undertaken by the MNBC would not be successfully carried out, resulting in a further deficit. Today it appears our grave concerns were realized as MNBC representatives are already admitting a further debt of one million dollars, openly admitted to by the MNBC at their recent Métis Nation Governing Assembly. This was reconfirmed in a community meeting held in the Kootenay Region where an MNBC board members also reconfirmed this message.
With all due respect, it would appear that our concerns, supported through relevant documentation, throughout the 2011-2012 fiscal year were not taken seriously by the any of your governments. Instead, in December of 2011, the Province of British Columbia, under the Ministry of Aboriginal Recognition and Reconciliation stated that, “MNBC has implemented a deficit recovery plan, under which they seek to have a balanced budget this fiscal year and surpluses in future years that will begin to reduce the accumulated deficit. The Province continues to monitor MNBC’s progress on this plan.” There is other correspondence from the government (of which I am sure you are aware) which assures BC Métis Federation that the appropriate actions are being taken including the diminishing of MNBC Board of Directors salaries. Incredibly the Provincial Minister reinforced these same messages earlier this week in her most recent letter dated April 17th, 2012. I have attached this correspondence and question how any government leader could maintain this position as MNBC is already admitting the loss of another $1 million well before the date of this new letter?
If governments were truly monitoring MNBC’s progress on their Debt Recovery Plan, they could not have helped but notice that the April – June 2011 quarterly report published by MNBC clearly articulated that the MNBC Board of Directors salaries were reduced from $79,340 to $78,748 saving a grand total of $592.00. This is but one of the many examples of how, the MNBC did not put the interests of the Métis people or the taxpayers of Canada or British Columbia before their own personal gain.
At present, these are the facts. Not only did the MNBC not achieve a balanced budget, they continued to squander funds allocated by both of your governments. The end result is a debt of over $3 million dollars of government funding. Once again the BC Métis Federation asks the question – how much longer are the provincial and federal governments going to allow this Aboriginal organization to continue to operate in such extravagance and blatant disregard for the Métis people of British Columbia and the taxpayers of Canada and British Columbia? I would hope that for the sake of the Métis people who are not getting the programs and services that they deserve, for the Métis workers from MNBC who have been relieved of their positions under the auspices of “implementing the Debt Recovery Plan”, for the taxpayers of Canada and British Columbia who are providing resources so that a few elite board members can continue to live in the manner to which they have become accustomed; that you, the leaders of our province and country, would finally say enough is enough and do it before this becomes another news story.
I also wish to remind governments that precedent continues to be contradictory in how both governments are approaching the situation and the relationship with the MNBC. First the Federal Government recently cited “governance issues” as one of the reasons to close the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). NAHO is a national organization that has been in existence for roughly 12 years and it would be an interesting comparison of what these governance items were to justify a cut in federal funding? Was it NAHO financial mismanagement? Was it a lack of public accountability? A quick review of the NAHO financial statements alone reveals a much stronger financial situation as compared to the MNBC. Second the Province of British Columbia prides itself in public statements about a AAA credit rating while providing funding to an organization such as the MNBC who is on the brink of bankruptcy and clearly does not share the same sense of corporate values or ability to make tough decisions. In addition the Provincial Government took actions in the later part of the 2000’s when concerns were identified about another Aboriginal representative organization, namely the United Native Nations (UNN) for alleged financial mismanagement and governance related issues. The UNN had been in existence for decades and when issues arose and could not be addressed, both governments took action. Therefore I repeat in the midst of a failed MNBC funded debt recovery plan and increased debt how can either government not suspend funding or take serious and action? How much money has the Provincial Government funded to MNBC in 2011-2012 while MNBC increased their debt? In 2010-2011 the Province provided roughly $1.1 million and is this not a concern to the Premier? Moreover the Federal Government provided about $10 million in 2010-2011. How much was provided by the Federal Government in 2011-2012 while MNBC increased their debt? Remember MNBC was provided resources to develop an MNBC Debt Recovery Plan that clearly was ignored by MNBC in light of the revelations that MNBC realized significant new debt of a reported $1 million, adding to the existing insolvency.
The BC Métis Federation has given your governments an opportunity to engage with a transparent, grassroots organization that has clearly demonstrated its abilities over the past number of years. Through our own diligence, perseverance and dedication, the BC Métis Federation has become a well known and respected organization by the Métis people for the Métis people. Our Métis people have invested their own resources, we have travelled throughout our communities, and most importantly we have listened to our people. It is the goal and the vision of the BC Métis Federation to serve our people in a manner that promotes progress for our entire community and we sincerely commit to ensuring that the BC Métis Federation continues to operate for the benefit of all Métis people and not the personal gains of a select few.
It is our hope that the continued travesty carried out by MNBC during the 2011-2012 fiscal year will finally move both the federal and provincial governments to utilize our organization as the vehicle by which the Métis people of British Columbia are engaged.
On behalf of many Métis people in British Columbia and the BC Métis Federation, I look forward to working with both of your governments in the very near future. It is my hope that through partnership building, that we can work together to rebuild the faith of the Métis people of British Columbia, so that they know that the government will no longer allow this mockery to continue.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
British Columbia Métis Federation
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway
cc Peter Cunningham, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Honourable Scott Fraser, Critic for Aboriginal Relations
Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Federal Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic
Honourable Jean Crowder, NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic
BC Métis Federation Board Members
BC Métis Federation Members
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Provincial-and-Federal-Governments-April-20th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Letter in PDF format[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/MARR-Letter-of-April-17th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]MARR Letter of April 17th, 2012[/ilink]