Racial Remarks Made to Métis Employee

Mayor Dianne Watts
City of Surrey

Your Worship,

I am writing to express profound concern regarding alleged racial remarks from a former City of Surrey Manager and co-worker against another City of Surrey employee who is Métis from September 2010. This was reported in the Surrey Now newspaper last week (March 13th, 2012) and has since become very public and caused major unrest in the Métis community throughout BC. We understand the remarks are now before the BC Human Right Tribunal and have been accepted for further review.

The BC Métis Federation is a provincial Métis organization comprised of Métis people from throughout BC. We have signed a Statement of Cooperation with the Nova Métis Heritage Association that is a Métis community based organization located in Surrey that represents about 2000 members. Surrey is resident to one of the largest urban Métis populations in Canada where it the city is estimated to have well over 5000 Métis people living within the city limits and therefore this issue is of extreme concern for many Métis families.

Therefore we write to ensure your office is fully aware Métis people are extremely upset about this situation. For many it appears the “system” has collectively failed this Métis person who is an employee of the City of Surrey. Miss Merrick has been failed by her union and it remains unclear whether the City of Surrey human resource department took any actions given the information available now through the BC Human Right Tribunal review available online.

The City of Surrey is multicultural and as Métis people we would not have expected such a situation to remain unresolved after 2 years. As such, we urge the City of Surrey to take further steps to address this matter internally with all employees that protects the rights of respect and dignity for all cultures, including the Métis people. In such a circumstance the BC Métis Federation would have expected the City of Surrey to have a zero tolerance policy against any racial remarks and employees found to contravene this policy would be immediately terminated. Moreover we would encourage the City of Surrey to consider future workshops to learn about Métis people, our history and culture. The BC Métis Federation has services that we can provide to support and sensitize City of Surrey employees about our proud people.

In closing we expect further actions by the City of Surrey given the severity of the situation and further review by the BC Human Rights Tribunal in this matter. The alleged remarks are callous and racist in nature and not acceptable. The current delay to address this matter is unacceptable and the fact that her union and City of Surrey human resources failed her raises major concerns.

I welcome and offer assistance in terms of Métis cultural support and awareness. However I urge your office not to delay follow up actions as thousands of Métis residents in Surrey are extremely upset that such derogatory comments could ever be made in the City of Surrey work environment.

I propose that we meet in the near future to consider how best to take corrective actions and address this situation. I can be reached at 1-778-388-5013 or email k.henry@bcmetis.com.

Thank you,

Keith Henry
BC Métis Federation

cc Nova Métis Heritage Association
BC Métis Federation Board Members
BC Métis Federation Members
Barry O’Neil, President Cupe BC
Shaheen Kamadia, CUPE National Rep for City of Surrey Workers & Cupe BC CARD Committee
Jean Kilby, Cupe local 402 1st Vice President – City of Surrey Workers
Michele Alexander, Cupe BC – CARD Committee to Eliminate Racism & Discrimination
Dale Whitford, Cupe BC – Diversity Vice-President Representing Aboriginal Workers

[ilink url=”/wp-content/uploads/BC-Metis-Federation-Letter-March-21st-2012-1.pdf” style=”download”]Download this Letter in PDF format[/ilink]

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