For Immediate Release
First-ever budget submission prioritizes health, education, housing and capacity building for Nation representing one-third of the Indigenous population in B.C.
VANCOUVER, B.C. (June 26, 2020) – In its first-ever formal budget submission request to the Province of British Columbia, the Métis Nation B.C. (MNBC) 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.
In the 2018 Throne speech, the B.C. Government said, “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.” Although the B.C. Government has also affirmed its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and advancing reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples of B.C., many Ministry policies and programs continue to make little or no specific references to Métis people. As a result, many Métis people and communities do not have access to the same types of social and economic programs and support as their fellow British Columbians, which affects their health, economic independence, quality of life, and ability to reach their full potential.
“The Métis Nation of British Columbia is committed to meeting the needs of our citizens and achieving self-government and autonomy,” said Daniel Fontaine, Deputy Minister and CEO, MNBC. “While we hold Section 35 rights in B.C. that are equal to the rights of First Nations and Inuit peoples, this is not reflected in the actions and funding amounts that we receive from the B.C. Government. Consequently, this historic budget submission is an opportunity for the B.C. Government to take the first concrete steps in advancing real reconciliation with the Métis of B.C.”
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.
“In 2016, MNBC and the B.C. Government signed the Métis Nation Relationship Accord (MNRA II), which recognized that Métis people in B.C. do not have the same quality of life as most British Columbians, and are hindered from full participation in the B.C. economy,” said Fontaine. “Through MNRA II, the B.C. Government made a commitment to ‘strengthen the relationships with Métis People and close the gap in the quality of life for Métis people in British Columbia.’ While we clearly have a long way to go, our hope is that the government will reaffirm that commitment through support of this budget submission, so Métis people in B.C. can enjoy the same quality of life as most British Columbians and continue working towards self-sufficiency and self-government.”
Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) represents nearly 90,000 self-identified Métis people in British Columbia. To date, over 21,000 Métis citizens are provincially registered with MNBC. The Métis National Council, the Government of Canada, and the B.C. Government, recognize MNBC as the governing body for the Métis people in B.C. MNBC develops and enhances opportunities for Métis communities by implementing culturally relevant social and economic programs and services, for all self-identified Métis within B.C., regardless of citizenship with MNBC.
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Métis Nation BC