British Columbia’s most recent government made the goal of advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples a top priority upon election in 2017. This is highlighted by committing to reconciliation in each of their throne speeches during their term. However, the only specific mention made of the Métis in BC was in 2018’s throne speech, during which [the speaker] stated,
“Indigenous Peoples, be they title-holding First Nations, Métis, Inuit, or those living on- or off-reserve, must be involved in the decisions, programs, and policies that affect them.
Ignoring the Métis Nation has been a consistent and long-standing policy of successive governments in the province. This document demonstrates where the historic and current imbalances in provincial funding between the Métis Nation and First Nations exist, the lack of recognition for the Métis Nation, and examines the rationale provided by the provincial government for this current reality. It further highlights why the rationale is legally invalid and politically harmful.
Currently, the BC Government funds the First Nations Health Authority a thousand times more than the amount provided in health funding to the Métis Nation. This is not an exaggeration or a misprint – $60M in funding compared to $200,000, annually. The recently announced First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing agreement will deliver an estimated $120M annually – $3B over 25 years. The Métis Nation was excluded from this agreement and will receive no funding from gaming revenues. These are but two of the most egregious examples that will be examined in greater detail.
Provincial and federal governments have a well documented history in marginalizing Indigenous peoples across Canada, and suppressing our cultures and way of life through assimilative tactics. We are not operating under a false assumption that First Nations have ever been sufficiently funded; their struggles are very similar to our own. What we are underlining is how BC has unfairly excluded the Métis Nation in their reconciliation efforts.
In his 2016 report to the Government of Canada, A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: Report of the Minister’s Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Métis Federation Decision, Tom Isaac states: “Reconciliation is more than platitudes and recognition. Reconciliation flows from the constitutionally protected rights of Métis protected by Section 35 and is inextricably tied to the honour of the Crown, and must be grounded in practical actions.”
We trust that the message will be well received and will lead to a renewed, enhanced relationship with Métis Nation and the BC Government.