This year, for the first time ever, Métis Nation B.C. (MNBC) submitted a formal budget submission request to the Province of British Columbia via the BC Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. The request is seeking $33 million to support programs and services for the 90,000 Métis people in B.C., whose social and economic needs are largely overlooked and underfunded despite the fact they represent approximately one-third of the Indigenous population in B.C.
The final report from the committee, released Friday August 21st, makes 46 unique mentions of “Métis.” In addition, the #1 recommendation is to work with the Métis Nation and other Indigenous peoples. “Provide sufficient resources to continue concrete action on the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, including recognizing and addressing the needs of distinct First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. You can read MNBC’s full report here, and the BC Legislature Finance Committee report here.
Among examples of unique challenges facing Métis people in BC are:
- Children: Despite having the largest number of children in the care of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development (750), and 520 open family service files, MNBC has limited resources and only one full-time staff person within the Ministry.
- Education: In 2019, the First Nations Education Steering Committee received $4.3M in funding from the B.C. Government, while MNBC received only $100,000 in education funding.
- Health: The First Nations Health Authority has an annual budget of $600M to provide services on behalf of First Nations and Indigenous people, but has no mandate to represent the interests of Métis people. In comparison, MNBC receives a base allocation of $200K per year to represent and reflect the health care needs of Métis people.
- Housing: Unlike other First Nations, the Métis Nation is not land-based, so its citizens require housing and homelessness programs and services in all areas of the province.
- Business development: Across Western Canada, seven organizations have been established to help Métis entrepreneurs and communities access loans and support from (federally and provincially funded) Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFI). B.C. does not have a Métis–AFI organization, despite having the fourth largest Métis population in Canada.
Within the $33-million budget submission are specific requested allocations for Métis government ministry goals and priorities, including, but not limited to:
Children and Families
– Staff the new Métis Nation Child and Family Society (MNCFS) to assume responsibility for the Métis children in government care.
– Through MNCFS, conduct family finding for Métis children to have children reunited with their families or removed from government care, into permanent placements.
– Develop organizational capacity, recruit business development officers, explore joint ventures and investment opportunities, and support Métis entrepreneurs and businesses.
– Develop a MNBC/B.C. Métis Education Commitment Agreement to support core education operations, such as: High-level cooperation with the B.C. Ministry of Education; K-12 targeted Indigenous funding; local education agreements; K-12 Indigenous languages; Métis cultural resources and curriculum; and teacher professional development.
– Support Métis Early Years Program, including: a referral network for Métis families with children eight and under; develop partnerships with early years agencies and service providers; and develop programs and services for Métis families.
Employment and Training
– Provide life skills education for Métis youth, especially those aging out of provincial care.
– Provide forestry and environmental programs focusing on teaching firefighting, flood and natural disaster preparation skills.
Health / Mental Health and Addictions
– Increase Métis representation on all Regional Health Authority Boards in addition to the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA).
– Increase the number of Métis in senior management roles within the health care system.
– End the systemic racism toward Métis and other Indigenous peoples in our health care system.
– Develop a provincial Métis Health and Wellness Plan.
– Gather and report out on Métis-specific health data.
Housing and Homelessness / Poverty Reduction
– Acquire land, such as surplus Crown land, to support housing and homelessness initiatives.
– Support elders in retrofitting their homes so they can age in place.
– Reduce the overall number of Métis people living on the streets.