From the Office of MNBC President Clara Morin Dal Col
Summer is upon us. The rather wet weather that we have been experiencing for the past month has no doubt left some of us asking when the nice weather is coming. My hope is that the warm summer weather comes soon so that we can all get out and do all the things that families should be doing in the summer. We just need to continue to remember to be careful because unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is still hanging around.
Since March, MNBC has provided $24,000 to each of our Métis communities so that they can assist our Métis people in coping with some of the challenges resulting from COVID-19. Each Community will be providing a report in the near future as to how those funds have been invested and I am looking forward to hearing about all the different ways that our Métis families, especially the most vulnerable, have been helped.
In addition to the help at the community level, MNBC has now received about 750 applications for the $500 grant to assist Métis families with school-age children to access their education on-line. The vast majority of the applications have been processed by staff and the money has gone out. At the same time, some 500 applications have also been received and processed for MNBC’s rent relief program at $250 per month for a three-month period.
Throughout the last number of months, these initiatives and others have helped to ensure that those most in need during the COVID pandemic have received assistance.
Ma Nîķi (My Home) Renovation Program for Métis Seniors
Just a few days ago we announced a $1.5 million program for Métis Seniors. The intent of the pilot program is to assist Métis citizens who are seniors (age 65 and older) with up to $20,000 per applicant to improve the condition of their owned home. The funding will cover at least 75 applicants in the form of a non-repayable grant, as long as the home is owned for at least five years from receipt of the grant. Please see our website for further details or email email@example.com . Ensuring that Métis people have access to affordable housing and can ‘age in place’ are key components of our Made for Métis Housing Strategy. As President and MNBC’s Minister of Housing I feel strongly that for many seniors, being able to make the key home improvements they need can make all the difference between being able to keep living in the place they’ve called home for many years or having to relocate to a seniors’ home, often times outside their home community. MNBC represents one-third of the Indigenous people in B.C. and is committed to ensuring the Métis seniors who helped build this province can enjoy their retirement in their own homes. Please visit the new and improved MNBC website for more information.
Other Métis housing initiatives that we will be working on very soon include the Métis Single Parents Helping Hand Program and the Métis Community Housing Program. We hope to have these initiatives announced in the near future. A new Senior Manager of Housing and Homelessness as well as a Housing Program Coordinator are currently being recruited to assist in the operation of MNBC’s Made for Métis Housing Strategy.
MNBC Makes Budget Submission to Provincial Government for $33 Million
In its first-ever formal budget submission request to the Province of British Columbia, Métis Nation British Columbia (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 Métis represent approximately one-third of the Indigenous population in B.C.
This provincial government has an annual budget this year of more than $60B. Over the past five years, on average we received less than $1 million dollars a year while First Nations receive many millions of dollars. I do not for one moment criticize the funding being provided to First Nations because their needs are very critical and significant, but this provincial government should not be overlooking the needs of Métis. We are seeking $33 million in the next fiscal year beginning in 2021 for various program and service areas including, but not limited to health, education, housing, and justice.
My thanks to Deputy Minister Fontaine and MNBC staff for working so hard to put this submission together. The full budget submission is on our website at https://www.mnbc.ca/news/2020/metis-nation-b-c-seeks-new-relationship-with-b-c-government/ .
Racism in our Hospitals
I am very concerned about information we have received alleging a “Price is Right” type of game being played in at least one emergency room in BC and the general systemic racism that Indigenous people, including our own Métis people, are experiencing when they have to attend some hospitals for treatment. The “Price is Right” allegation involves emergency room staff in at least one hospital predicting blood-alcohol levels in Indigenous patients. This is very offensive and wrong, and I strongly conveyed that sentiment to the provincial Minister of Health Adrian Dix when he spoke with me and our MNBC Minister of Health Susie Hooper about this. We have proposed a 1-800 Tip Line for hospital staff and members of the public to call when they witness such examples of racism. The Minister has appointed Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (a lawyer and the former Provincial Representative for Children and Youth) to investigate this issue and Ms. Turpel-Lafond has already called me to discuss this issue. I have assured her that we fully support her appointment.
Racism of any type anywhere in society is not acceptable, and I am pleased that the provincial Minister has moved quickly to deal with this issue.
Enjoy Your Summer
We look forward to some wonderful sunny weather this summer and I hope that you and your families will enjoy the outdoors and travel safe on our highways. My thanks to our MNBC staff and our volunteers in our Métis communities for all that they do for our Métis people.
As always, if you have any questions or require information about any subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.