Dear Métis people and communities;
The BC Métis Federation continues our work to expose the contradictions of the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and their public position related to the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project. This correspondence is another effort to ensure Métis people and community leaders better understand the BC Métis Federation concerns and position. This letter will outline four specific issues we believe warrant serious consideration by Métis people as MNBC continues their unilateral decision making without any mandate. The Enbridge project offers another example of the ongoing MNBC mismanagement and incompetent Métis governance. The MNBC has remained silent about whether they have signed the equity package in exchange for project support but all indications are that MNBC has on behalf of all Métis people in BC.
Issue One – First Nation Protocol
It remains unclear if MNBC has had any conversations with the First Nations who are impacted by the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project in BC. This is a major concern as the vast majority of the First Nation communities remains in strong opposition and has signed a declaration to fight this project entitled “Save the Fraser”. Here is a list of the all Aboriginal communities who Enbridge continues to seek approval with:
Kitselas Band Council, Kitsumkalum Band Council, Métis Nation British Columbia and includes:
North East Métis Association in Dawson Creek, Prince George Métis Community Association, New Caledonia Métis Association in Fort St. James, Tri River Métis Association in Terrace, Northwest BC Métis Association in Smithers, Kitamaat Village Council (Haisla Nation), Lax-Kw’alaams First Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, Gitxaala Nation (Kitkatla), Hartley Bay (Gitga’at Nation),Council of the Haida Nation ,Skidegate Band Council, Old Masset Village Council Carrier Sekani Tribal Council – Yinka Dene Alliance, Saik’uz First Nation, Nak’azdli Indian Band, Tl’azt’en Nation, Takla Lake First Nation, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, Stellat’en First Nation, Lake Babine Nation, Burns Lake Band ,(Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation), Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Cheslatta Carrier Nation, Skin Tyee Nation, Nee-Tahi-Buhn (NeeTahi Buhn Indian Band) Lheidli-T’enneh Band, CT8C/T8TA Saulteau First Nation, West Moberly First Nations, McLeod Lake (McLeod Lake Indian Band), Yekooche First Nation Office of the Wet’suwet’en Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs
The MNBC leadership appears to believe they can make decisions as an Aboriginal “rights” holder while disregarding the Aboriginal rights and title of the majority of these First Nation communities. BC Métis Federation does not support such disrespect to the outstanding First Nation territorial claims. Therefore BC Métis Federation has made efforts to create dialogue with a number of the identified First Nation communities to better understand their strategies and how to work together on this important issue.
Issue Two – MNBC Decision Making Process
MNBC remains ambiguous about the decision making process regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project. First is the outstanding question whether or not the MNBC board has already signed the equity deal offered by Enbridge in exchange for project support. This appears to be the case as MNBC is co-presenting an economic development forum March 15th and 16th in Grand Prairie only days AFTER their upcoming Métis Nation Governing Assembly where a decision was reported would be made March 10th and 11th according to testimony presented by MNBC representatives at the Joint Review Panel in January. During one of the Joint Review Panel presentations MNBC representatives suggested a decision would be made by the Métis Nation Governing Assembly members on March 10th and 11th. However there is no resolution in the online MNGA resolutions package now posted on the MNBC website and their identified Métis Chartered Communities most affected have not had any vote or reported meetings to give MNBC a mandate in the interim. In fact BC Métis Federation has learned MNBC has requested a Métis Chartered Community not to make a decision until after March 15th and 16th directly by MNBC President Bruce Dumont. Ask yourself why?
Second the legitimacy of the MNBC to suggest that they represent all Métis people in BC at the Joint Review Panel or to Enbridge is misleading and incorrect. MNBC represents about 6000 Métis people (only 10% of the provincial Métis population) in BC and they have not obtained any mandate from any of their members. Moreover neither MNBC nor Enbridge has properly identified all of the affected Métis communities by this project. Project consultation should have included Hudson Hope, Chetwynd, Fort St. John, Kitimat, Prince Rupert and others.
Third according to the MNBC financial statements MNBC was provided resources over the last three years to ensure proper Métis Chartered Community consultation. According to the Northern Gateway application MNBC gave direction to Enbridge that project consultation must be through MNBC. Therefore MNBC was responsible to consult with their members and was provided about $50,000.00 in 2009-2010, $20,000.00 in 2010-2011 and one would assume at least another $20,000.00 in 2011-2012 from Enbridge. Therefore what has MNBC done to provide the identified Métis Chartered Communities (Terrace, Smithers, Prince George, Fort St. James, and Dawson Creek) resources to understand the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project? What was the role of BCMANR? Where are the meeting notes and did these community members make any decisions or provide a mandate for the MNBC to sign an equity deal?
Fourth MNBC was provided additional funding to complete an independent Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) study in relation to this project as per the Northern Gateway project application available online. How much and who is completing this independent MNBC ATK study that will allegedly guide Enbridge in further reviewing the impacts to the Métis communities and families affected if the project proceeds? We assume this “independent” ATK was the recent announcement of the Niché Environmental Limited contract announced by MNBC on December 10th, 2011. Remember Niché is owned by the MNBC. If Niché was awarded the contract to complete the ATK for this project this adds another issue of conflict.
Fifth the Enbridge project impacts several other Métis communities and families throughout BC. For example there is a historic Métis community in Kelly Lake and the Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society have taken a position against the project. In addition there are Métis communities in Chetwynd, Fort St. John, Hudson Hope, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, and several others on the Fraser watershed (Quesnel, Williams Lake, Abbotsford, etc.) who will also be impacted by any pipeline spill or tanker accident if the project proceeds.
Issue Three – MNBC Sustainability
The BC Métis Federation continues to educate Métis people that MNBC is no longer financially sustainable and we believe will take whatever resources offered by Enbridge, or any other proponent, to support themselves as the MNBC corporation only. MNBC is millions of dollars in debt and trying to sell their failed school. It is clear the MNBC board will make decisions in their interests only and this is the reason resources have never reached the communities MNBC was to support Enbridge project consultation.
Issue Four – Non Aboriginal Community Position
The MNBC must be unaware or does not consider the ongoing non-Aboriginal community position against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project. The City of Terrace voted against the project 5-2 in February 2012 and the Union of BC Municipalities voted by a large majority against the project at the UBCM.
BC Métis Federation Approach
Although the BC Métis Federation was not provided any consultation resources we have provided ongoing Enbridge project discussions through a variety of mechanisms to assist. The BC Métis Federation understands that the role of Métis people and your views about such a mega project are very important. We understand there will be major impacts to Métis commercial fishing, traditional harvesting, and various land use through the proposed route. An initial Enbridge overview was provided during the online show entitled Métis Coffee Talk where over 4000 viewers attended in January 2012. BC Métis Federation has continued weeks of Enbridge Northern Gateway Project discussions and information in January and February now reaching an online audience of over 12 000 viewers over the last four shows. It is clear that most of the Métis people of BC are not aware of the potential impacts of this project. BC Métis Federation is now providing an online opinion poll that closes the end of February 2012 to further review the Métis perspective of the project and we strongly encourage all Métis families to share their views by registering their views in the online poll.
This is a very serious matter and the BC Métis Federation board will review the results of the online poll, complete other direct Métis community dialogue and complete discussions with First Nations to develop a position in relation to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project the first week of March 2012. We will continue to do our best to ensure Métis people of BC can make an informed decision about their views regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway project as the handling of the project consultation by MNBC has been incompetent.
The true issue though remains the fact that MNBC appears to have made a unilateral decision to support the project despite your views and lack of consultation although being provided significant resources by Enbridge over the last three years. This is not a major surprise though as MNBC did not consult when they purchased a school for millions of your dollars in 2009, opened a Métis catering company in 2011, secured a second mortgage of $1.6 million in December 2011, drafted an MNBC debt recovery plan in 2011, plus so much more. Every single one of these actions has resulted in failure; reduced Métis public confidence in the MNBC, financial loss, and major risk to Métis projects.
You can make a difference now by completing the BC Métis Federation online survey regarding the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project before the end of February, considering BC Métis Federation membership, terminating your MNBC membership, and attending one of the BC Métis Federation Regional Gatherings starting March 2012.
It is time for immediate change and these facts continue to build.
[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BC-Metis-Federation-Letter-to-Metis-People-of-BC-February-25th-2012.pdf” style=”download”]Click here to download this letter in PDF format.[/ilink]
cc BCMF Board of Directors
Métis People of BC
MPs (British Columbia)