Dear President Guujaaw;
The BC Métis Federation is writing to express our profound regrets to the Haida Nation for the presentation made by a Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) individual, namely Mr. Gary Ducommun, at the recent Joint Review Panel held in Old Massett recently in relation to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project. We have reviewed his presentation comments as well as your comments expressed on behalf of the Haida Nation regarding his participation. Therefore I felt it important to communicate with your Nation to provide clarification and perhaps being a new relationship on behalf of Métis people for the future.
Unfortunately the Métis people continue to struggle with governance of proper representation in BC and today there are two provincial organizations; the MNBC and our BC Métis Federation. As an MNBC representative Mr. Ducommun represents a non-profit organization that has a legitimate membership (as per their cards) of approximately 6000 people in BC. The MNBC office is located in Abbotsford and Mr. Ducommun is from the Williams Lake area. The MNBC claims to represent about 34 Métis communities, none of which are located in Haida Gwaii, but continues to assert they speak for all Métis people and this is not true.
The BC Métis Federation evolved in 2011 due to the internal issues within the governance and financial management of the MNBC. MNBC has been struggling for years and today is millions in debt plus a number of other internal challenges. A number of us tried to assist and provide solutions within the MNBC governance but it failed our people and today the results in the MNBC speak for themselves. The BC Métis Federation now has 6 Métis community based organizations and additional MOU’s with service delivery organizations who provide support for Métis people throughout BC. We continue to increase membership and we pride ourselves on communications and meeting throughout BC despite no government or industry support. Our head office is located in Vancouver and we have a board of thirteen members from throughout BC; including northwest representation from Prince Rupert and Terrace.
I understand the Métis internal governance issues create confusion and challenges within the Aboriginal community. However our internal Métis issues continue to increase in light of the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project and the perception that MNBC speaks for all Métis people. This is a significant point as we believe MNBC has signed the equity deal with Enbridge in exchange for support of this project. Mr. Ducommun has been making various statements during the ongoing Joint Review
Panel hearings located throughout BC and Alberta about an alleged MNBC decision making process that does not make any sense based on our efforts to investigate this further. In fact we describe his presentations as contradictory as MNBC is presenting an economic opportunities forum in partnership with Enbridge and others in mid March. We further question how MNBC as a board pays for Mr. Ducommun to attend each session and where the mandate comes from in terms of his presentations.
Given these issues I want to assure you and all First Nation leaders that MNBC does not speak for all Métis people in BC. In fact we point out that MNBC only speaks for about 10% of the provincial Métis population and it remains unclear who MNBC representatives speak for even within their own communities regarding this project. There has been no mandate provided to MNBC board members and their internal decisions appear to be made purely on their own without any Métis community decision making or proper consultation.
I express our profound regrets given your comments during this recent Joint Review Panel presentation on Day 1 where you stated:
“Our people have been here for a long, long time and it’s not through any gift of government that we have our rights or privileges or anything like that. It comes from our ancestors, our birthplace here, and there was – – there is scheduled to be another guest. I hope to say this in front of him, but that also makes us uncomfortable that there is people coming in from outside to speak here on what really is—we thought a forum for our people and the island people to speak. He’s from the Métis and our people of mixed blood are simply Haida’s; it’s not – and enjoy all the rights that all of us enjoy. And so I just wanted to say that so that the discomfort of not saying it doesn’t persist throughout the hearing.”
I also note you did in fact restate this position on Day 2 when he was attending. In addition after reviewing Mr. Ducommun’s presentation one has to wonder what is the purpose or intention given the objectives of the Joint Review Panel process. Mr. Ducommun’s alleged commercial experience appears irrelevant to the review process and he made obscure claims about representing Métis people from Haida Gwaii. MNBC has no community organization in Haida Gwaii and it is clear that if there are Métis people in the area, they should have been encouraged to present as required in this process.
In closing I wanted to express our regrets for this experience that Haida Gwaii and several other First Nation leaders are witnessing by MNBC representation during the Joint Review Panel project review. MNBC does not understand protocol or the importance of dialogue and respect for existing First Nation territorial governments.
As such I hope the Council of the Haida Nation and other First Nations will consider entering into a protocol agreement with the BC Métis Federation in the future. We continue to rebuild Métis governance throughout BC, one based on respecting the territory of the First Nations building a long term relationship to ensure we understand our respective Nations and work in cooperation. I feel this is a major priority given what can occur in these types of situations. The BC Métis Federation has been consulting with Métis people throughout BC and we can say with confidence that there is overwhelming opposition to this project.
Thank you for the opportunity to read my expression of regret in this matter. I want to assure you that not all Métis people disrespect First Nations or support using the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project for personal wealth.
I hope this situation might present an opportunity to forge a new understanding between the BC Métis Federation and First Nations to support a more cohesive Aboriginal community throughout BC.
For more information please review our website @ www.bcmetis.com or watch our last online weekly show entitled Métis Coffee Talk (access on our website as well in the Coffee Talk Tab) to gain a better understanding of our organization and review of this project.
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BC-Metis-Federation-Letter-to-President-Guujaaw-March-2nd-2012-1.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/GUUJAAW.pdf” style=”download”]President Guujaaw Biography[/ilink]
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/MNBC-Presentation-at-Old-Masset-February-29th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]MNBC Presentation Old Masset February 29th 2012[/ilink]
cc BCMF Board of Directors
Métis People of BC