Open Letter to the Métis Public – Idle No More

Open letter to all Mètis people in Canada,


Idle No More Peach Arch January 5th 2013

The BC Metis Federation writes today to all Mètis and friends of the Mètis in light of the upcoming meeting now scheduled with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nation leadership.

Over the course of the last few weeks two key events have forced all Canadians and Aboriginal people to rethink about the current situation facing all Aboriginal people across the country. The events included the current hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence in Ottawa and the Idle No More movement that has included several protests across the country.

The BC Mètis Federation has worked hard to share information and updates as these current events unfold and attended to show support as we believe these events are symbolic of issues that affect all Aboriginal people. Since 2011 BC Metis Federation has written to the Prime Minister Harper, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Duncan, and all MPs across Canada to address serious concerns we had as Mètis people related to financial mismanagement of Metis program funding and other issues by an organization known as Mètis Nation British Columbia (MNBC).

As Mètis people we expected the Federal Government to work with all Mètis people and to that end we offered solutions, choices, and fact based information to support why something had to be done. Since June of 2011 the federal government response has been ineffective and silent. BC Mètis Federation representatives and members tried to “use the system” and after more than 40 letters, over 100 emails, phone calls requesting meetings it is clear to us that the federal government system did not work because their leadership does not care. There were a few non responses about “we are looking into this matter, etc.” The social challenges are shared between First Nations and Mètis communities; higher unemployment, lack of cultural support, lower housing standards, higher incarceration rates, higher rates of children in care, plus much more.

The answer by the current federal government is to further cut programs, representative funding, and continue to insinuate that all Aboriginal governance is corrupt or ineffective. This is not true and many of know the solutions are within our communities but we need a new relationship, one that supports the vision and solutions by our own community as we know how best to address our challenges within our families and communities. For example, one of the most important issues BC Mètis Federation is fighting is about consultation and how the federal government is defining Mètis consultation. The current federal government has made it clear that they will attempt to support increased shipping of tar sands oil to eastern markets. The federal government support for proposed projects such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project and the Kinder Morgan expansion therefore appear to be a clear priority despite the majority Aboriginal opposition. For Mètis this became symbolic because MNBC is supporting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project and other controversial projects with absolutely no mandate from our Metis people in BC. Therefore it is convenient for the federal government to quietly ignore the mismanagement and other undemocratic issues this organization has created time and time again.

Therefore BC Metis Federation continues to support Idle No More because the current federal government leadership contradicts every aspect of what they say. When Prime Minister Harper was elected in 2006 he articulated that this government was committed to sound financial management yet they pour $10 million annually into MNBC who is about $8 million in debt and growing each year. Prime Minister Harper indicated he wanted a new relationship with Aboriginal people yet for the large majority of Mètis in BC MNBC does not represent all Metis people and other organizations who seek recognition are ignored despite alleged constitutional protection.

BC Metis Federation continues to call on Metis people and our supporters to better understand the lack of respect to all Aboriginal communities and what is being done in BC and across Canada despite tremendous volunteer efforts to rebuild relationships with the federal government. This government has shown through their lack of effort to address real issues for Mètis in BC and it is clear that they just don’t care. As Aboriginal people we must all see the larger picture and together we can continue to force change. I for one do not believe any meeting this week with the Prime Minister will change anything but another photo op because the federal government will not repeal the current Bills that created the movements, they will likely advance the industry projects that impact all of our environments, and they will continue to smile and speak with a forked tongue about more process with no investment and no clear deliverables.

The current federal government lack of actions in BC to address Mètis concerns prove to many of us that change is highly unlikely. Therefore thank you to all of our Metis members who continue to participate and support the Idle No More protests to ensure we stand together shoulder to shoulder with all Aboriginal people. This movement continues as our future depends on it. Ultimately BC Mètis Federation hopes for tangible solutions but after approximately seven years in power, future positive results are questionable. In closing when Canadians ask themselves why there continues to be such challenges, we can assure them that Mètis people have repeatedly attempted to correct internal issues without success. The dismissive and ineffective actions by the federal government prove time and time again that the relationship is not mutually respectful and lacks care for our dying culture. Regardless BC Mètis Federation will continue to support protests and call on governments to enter into new relationships with all Aboriginal people, including the Mètis. This would mean having an open and transparent relationship about what is working, what is not, and how can we begin to take steps to fix and work together for the betterment of our people and saving of our culture.

We all want a prosperous Canada.
Thank you,
Keith Henry

[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BCMF-Letter-to-Metis-People-January-7th-2013.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this in PDF format.[/ilink]

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