The Métis National Council and Fox Trap Bait by Joe Desjarlais

In early treaty history between First Nations and the Crown, some Cree and Assiniboine chiefs refused gifts by the negotiators, referring to them as bribes to facilitate future political actions. One chief compared this posturing to ‘fox-trap bait’. They were correct because political actions led to broken promises.

Metis National Council leader Clem Chartier purports to represent a Constitutional people called the Metis with their organization the Metis National Council and that of their affiliates. However, they recently ‘took the fox trap bait’ on the backs of Metis people when they recently signed a Governance and Financial Accountability Accord with the Harper Government. They are seemingly putting the building blocks in place to be accountable to ‘government’ instead of their own people. This Metis Accord at the Federal level recently signed off by Métis National Council President Chartier and his affiliate leaders is basically a ‘block funding’ agreement in exchange for MNC’s agreement to restrict its membership. A couple of quick thoughts on the accord:

1. It appears the price for ‘block funding’ is an ‘Objectively Verifiable Membership.’ This is nonsense, and a continuation of a colonial relationship. While the Indian Act put the onus on the state (Canada) to define ‘Indian’ as a policy of assimilation, under this pact Metis themselves are tasked with limiting their identity … they are seemingly willing partners in their own marginalization. Interesting too is the fact that ‘membership’ is not defined as ‘citizenship (in a Metis nation)’ … Makes you wonder what the governments understanding is of “Metis Nation”.

2. Seems that the ‘Whereas’ section leads to less accountability, not more! They refer to accountability as being priorities in this Accord but I am left vague as to who is accountable to whom. Once again, the Feds and their co-opted Métis cronies hide behind nice words but have no comprehension as to what these terms mean. Since 2008 they have ignored taking responsibility for the crisis around the Métis Nation BC and their actions. Get beyond the surface arguments and the Metis National Council and other co-opted affiliates like the Metis Nation British Columbia that politicize Metis identity have become ‘voiceless’ partners in the Canadian government’s long term plan to exercise power over Metis in order to dispossess them of their rights and title while assimilating Metis into Canadian society.

Ironically Metis Nation Council President Chartier apparently recently attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York City in May. If we read the amazing document entitled the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on their website, the document rejects policies that create ethnic or national or racial superiority. As well, it reaffirms that indigenous peoples, in the exercise of their rights, should be free from discrimination of any kind. During these forums Metis National Council President Clem Chartier pretends to complain that Canada ignores disparities among Metis people but his words ring hollow. In his words about the UN event, “Canada spoke of the services and programs provided to First Nations and Inuit, never once mentioning the Métis and highlighting the glaring disparities in its treatment of the three constitutionally recognized Aboriginal peoples.”

It’s ironic that Metis Nation Council President Chartier attempts to make strong political statements at the United Nations event while in signing these recent agreements the Metis National Council and their affiliates are redefining Metis people and misleading industry and government about who they actually represent. Worse yet Metis National Council and their affiliates are limiting who can access their publicly funded programs and services resulting in a discriminatory practice, whether real or perceived. The results of the Metis National Council and affiliates like Metis Nation British Columbia are clear.

Governments are currently mentioned in active human rights cases that involve the discrimination of public policy and representation for Metis people. BC Metis Federation President Keith Henry recently stated that “This BC Human Right Tribunal decision is a giant step forward in revealing the rampant discrimination ongoing against Metis people throughout BC perpetrated by industry, government and MNBC.”

This recent Governance and Financial Accountability Accord is more about ad-hoc political or economic expediency than adherence to principles derived from a historic relationship or mandates from grass roots Metis people in Canada. Metis National Council President Chartier may have scored himself and a few Métis elites more wine and cheese parties from this Accord signing, but his actions have not been just on a national or international scale for Metis people in this country. By playing identity politics on the home front, Metis National Council and their affiliates have failed as advocates for Metis self determination in Canada and abroad resulting to a confined ‘’space,’ of more broken promises.

He has taken the fox trap bait.

Article by Joe Desjarlais

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