(Sidney, BC) On Saturday, March 23rd the NSMS held an information forum at the United Church located at Malaview and Fifth Avenue in Sidney, BC from 1:00pm – 5:00pm. The information session focused on the recent Federal Court ruling in the Daniel’s decision and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) decision and how these cases may affect Métis people in BC. Métis authors and BC Métis Federation Historians, Terry and George Goulet were featured speakers of the day.
George is a former Lawyer and Terry is well versed in legal issues. Both Terry and George provided a summary of the decisions and potential impact of the decisions for Métis people, from their perspective. George and Terry spoke for approximately an hour then entertained questions from the crowd. Their talks were both informative and encouraged discussion with the group. Approximately 12–14 people attended. People came from as far away as Campbell River, others from Parksville, Nanaimo and elsewhere around the Island. BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry and son Ciaran surprised the attendee’s with their arrival part way through the session.
Both the size of the group and the room made for a great discussion. Everyone got to speak and ask their questions. The Goulet’s did a great job of answering those questions. It is apparent that people are very interested in the current state of affairs for Métis people in BC and Canada. There is a renewed interest in determining Aboriginal ancestry in people who perhaps have not bothered before, or had no knowledge of their heritage etc, no doubt aided by the publicity surrounding the two above noted recent cases. Also there was obvious deep thinking regarding the MNBC and what’s happening with that organization. BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry was able to answer questions on many other issues, and stressed again the importance of attending the Métis Identity Forum in Prince George, May 11th. Federation President Henry also confirmed that a cultural event was being planned on Vancouver Island June 21st, 2013.
The consensus seemed to be that the people present enjoyed the Goulet’s information and discussion. The chance to meet BC Métis Federation representatives, ask questions and be heard was well received. Everyone present agreed we should and would do it again. Of course where there are Métis there’s always good grub with Shirley and Lynn donating the munchies including fresh bannock, bars, crunchies, dips, cheeses, tea, coffee.
NSMS rented the meeting room at the church for $50 to facilitate this important discussion forum at the grassroots level. Donations were requested, enough was received to cover the hall rental.
Terry Goulet stated; “The two cases dealt with individual Métis rights and status of the Métis rather than communities. Individual rights are enshrined within the Canadian Charter of Rights and the United Nation Declaration on the rights of Indigenous people and we need to better understand this.” George Goulet added; “The Daniels and MMF cases have the potential to bring significant benefits to the Métis, but in themselves, they provided no personal remedies, damages, or land to the Métis. Each court decision was a declaration, a narrow limited remedy. Future benefits such as health, education, etc., depend on good faith negotiations by the Federal Government, which stonewalled the Métis throughout each of the cases. Failure of negotiations will undoubtedly lead to further lengthy and expensive litigations. In the Daniels case, the Federal Court held that the Métis were “Indians” written in Section 91(24) of the Canadian Constitution of 1867. It stated that the term Métis in this respect was not a “one size fits all,” but was country wide and not limited to western Canada.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry concluded; ”Thank you George and Terry Goulet for their devoted volunteerism and efforts to support our communities and families. Also thank you Richard lucier Larsen for leadership within NSMS for organizing this information forum. We had a number of other interested Métis people attend who wanted to learn and better understand what the BC Métis Federation was about. Once again our team of collective interests led the day in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner. The BC Métis Federation is here to assist and advance our Métis needs. I believe we made new friends and new interested individuals. Thank you all for seeing past the politics and learning together for our future.”
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For more information about the BC Mètis Federation please review our website www.bcmetis.com.
Keith Henry, President
BC Métis Federation
#300-3665 Kingsway Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
You can follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis
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