Métis Nation British Columbia subject of BC Legislature debate

On Friday, July 17th the budget estimates for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation took place at the BC Legislature. This is a process whereby opposition MLAs can ask the government questions about a particular ministry budget to increase public accountability.

During the estimates process opposition MLA Sam Sullivan posed a series of questions to the Hon. Scott Fraser regarding the relationship between the Government of B.C. and Métis Nation British Columbia. During the brief 12 minute exchange the Minister was asked to provide an update regarding the Métis Nation Relationship Accord II.

What follows is an excerpt from that discussion:

S. Sullivan: Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, critic, for allowing me to elbow my way in here. First of all, it’s wonderful to see the renaissance of First Nations, to see all the incredible diversity and the enthusiasm, all the economic development. My concern: I want to focus on those who are not First Nations, other non-status Indigenous people and also Métis people. I was reading through the Métis Nation Relationship Accord II. It was signed in late 2016. There was a commitment to create a secretariat and that each party would commit two members.

I’d like to ask the minister: has this been done? What efforts have been made to breathe life into this MNRA, the Métis Nation relationship accord?

Hon. S. Fraser: Thank you to the member for Vancouver–False Creek for the question. It’s a good question. There’s still work to be done to implement the accord. But on this specific issue that the member refers to, I would note that my deputy minister and the Métis Nation B.C.’s new CEO spoke earlier this week and committed to getting the Secretariat up and running as soon as possible.

S. Sullivan: As I read through the accord, there’s supposed to be an annual meeting with the president of the Métis Nation and the minister. I suppose that that has not happened yet, then? I believe it’s from 2016, so that would be several meetings, if I could get an update on that.

Hon. S. Fraser: Thanks to the member again for the question. I, myself, have met numerous times with Clara Morin Dal Col, the president of the Métis Nation B.C. on a number of issues, including dealing with the declaration act as we were leading up to bringing that into force last November. There’s still work to be done. I’ll be frank with the member. That’s why these discussions have begun with the new CEO and my deputy minister. I recognize that we need to move forward on some of the issues of the accord.

There was also a further discussion as to why the provincial government choose to exclude the Métis people from receiving gaming funds and whether there was a ‘hierarchy of indigenous people” in B.C. Here is an excerpt from that part of the discussion:

S. Sullivan: Thank you, Minister. I was looking through the budget documents, and I was trying to find how much was committed to the Métis Nation relationship agreement. I didn’t find that. I don’t know. It might be in a different fund. For example, I know the recent gaming funds that were allocated to Indigenous people. How much of that was allocated to the Métis?

Hon. S. Fraser: The funding from our ministry, MIRR, is from our core funding. That would be for the governance funding that has been agreed to in the accord. The gaming revenue-sharing initiative that we began last year, and should continue for 25 years, is solely First Nations–focused. There are no funds designated for Métis in that funding stream.

S. Sullivan: Can I ask why that would be? That’s, I guess, what my previous question was trying to get at. Is there a hierarchy of Indigenous people that the minister generally uses to think about these issues? Where does, for example, certainly, the Métis Nation…? Where would that fit and, also. non-status Indians, according to the Indian Act, urban Aboriginal people? How do they fit into that kind of funding?

To watch the entire debate, click on the video link.