The following is a letter from BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry to members and partners in response to a recent anti-Métis resolution from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
BCMF members and partners,
As President of the BC Métis Federation (BCMF), I feel compelled to address and respond to the recent negative and anti-Métis remarks contained in Resolution no. 2023-39, as presented by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) Chiefs Council on June 8, 2023. The resolution speaks repeatedly of “Métis colonialism” and contains numerous offensive statements directed at the Métis Peoples of BC in general, and BCMF specifically. These include the following requests to the federal and provincial governments:
“[The Province of BC] promptly remove the Métis from any rights-based consultative processes, matters, projects, or initiatives in BC…”
“[The federal and provincial governments confirm that] the Métis hold no land, water, or air-based inherent and constitutionally protected rights in BC.”
Firstly, asserting that Métis in BC are “colonial” is ridiculous. Métis Peoples have constitutionally recognized and affirmed Indigenous rights under Section 35. Furthermore, claims that “no Métis communities exist or have ever existed in BC” are absurd. There is a long and documented history of Métis in the Pacific Northwest, as well as kinship communities across BC that continue to exist today.
BCMF has always respected First Nations rights and title and does not seek to overstep with respect to territory. Since 2015, BCMF has been trying to establish protocol with First Nations through dialogue. We have always approached the relationship between Métis and First Nations with respect. It is very disappointing to be on the receiving end of the complete opposite approach.
Métis in BC have Indigenous rights. BCMF will always stand up for these rights and will challenge any government, or Indigenous group, who disputes that fact. I am deeply shocked and concerned by the manner in which UBCIC is creating such strong anti-Métis sentiment through this resolution. The First Nations leadership involved in this discussion need to be reminded that Indigenous reconciliation includes Métis people. It is contradictory for them to call for reconciliation with non-Indigenous communities in BC and Canada, when they cannot, or will not, reconcile with the Métis people of this province who are also Indigenous.
Despite this anti-Métis rhetoric, BCMF leadership wants our members and partners to celebrate our Métis identity and history in Canada and the Pacific Northwest. We will never accept such an expression of intolerance and public statement of racism towards our people. Our Métis children and families do not deserve to be told they do not belong, or that they simply have no existence in BC.
We will urge all levels of government to dismiss UBCIC Resolution no. 2023-39. Members and partners can be assured that BCMF will be sending a strong letter of response directly to UBCIC and First Nations leadership to propose a more constructive way forward.
President, BC Métis Federation