Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The weather is cold and the time has come for staying warm and deep thoughts ….

Since I was a young girl, my grandmother taught me to have a social conscious and to care about others. As a young Métis girl, I was taken everywhere, involved in everything and mentored to be a strong advocate in what I believed in. She taught me how to be proud of who I was and reprimanded me when she seen me take the easy road and not be all I could be.

As a young woman, my mother and grandmother took me to meetings, assemblies and gatherings. I watched and listened. In fact I could tell you many funny stories of the things that I would see. As a child you would watch the passion, the purpose and the intent with which the people would fight for what they believed. The people would have a way to express their vision, their dreams and the goals they wanted to achieve. Sometimes the arguments would last into the wee hours of the morning – but at the end of it all – we were community. We would reach out and touch each other with a warm hand and help. The tears and stories were shared and many laughs were had. We were family. We did not wait for someone to ask for help – we reached out and offered. The young people were there sitting right beside the old ones. Learning and mentoring to grow and to learn from the community that they were a part of.

Where has the community gone?

Now for those of you that are wondering what I am ranting about I will tell you. There is discussion about the Métis National Council and the attempt to rescue it. Then of course I have listened and participated in the discussions around the lack of financial credibility and political accountability from leaders that appear to have lost their sense of where they came from. So I came up with the maybe we are trying to make a Rolls Royce out of a Red River Cart and those old wooden squared off wheels are just not carrying us on a very smooth ride. Maybe it is time for a new cart!

The Métis National Council Secretariat seems to have outlived its’ usefulness. In 1982 –when the Métis were being represented by the Native Council of Canada – we needed to quickly move on the establishment of a National body that whose mandate, priority and focus was the Métis Nation. It was a quick but what was suppose to be a temporary fix until we could work on the establishment of a structure that was more reflective of the community it represents. We have never gone back to establish the constitutionally developed structure that put the will of the Métis first. We just kept trying to fix a corporate structure that was developed on governments requests instead of our needs. What we have ended up with is a territorial turf structure that is for a very small elite group who have forgot their community and the people they say they represent.

Do not get me wrong – I don’t believe that we have to throw the baby out with the bath water but maybe we need a phoenix to rise from the ashes of what Clem Chartier and David Chartrand appear to be hell bent on destroying. Some major issues that appear on the surface are:

∞ The organizational corporate structure will not accept changes to its existence or structure unless the Board of Governors from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta agree to the bylaw change. (Like that will happen anytime in the future.) And O yea – only the Board of Governors can change the bylaws …

∞ The organization is run by one President (based on the bylaws) that never has to have a Board of Governor meeting or never has to account or report for the decision he or she makes back to the community. In fact – when has Clem ever come to any of the provincial assemblies and explained his decisions or sought input into the actions he takes on your behalf.

∞ The election of the President, as David so kindly reminded everyone, is completed by 55 people who are appointed by the Governing Members (Provincial Presidents) who sit there. Now David would like to sit on his democratic song but I challenge any of you to review the past 10 AGA’s to see if the delegates from Manitoba or any other province were always elected – provincially. As in most things – we never live by the rhetoric we spew.

∞ I have left what I believe is the most important element for last – where are the young fresh thinking people. When you look at the people we are talking about potentially running it makes me think of a bunch of old cows standing in a field chewing on our cud. We keep regurgitating the same old people. Don’t get it wrong – I have the utmost respect for a few of these people – but when do we move over and let new ideas, outside of the box thinking and movement that would inspire our young people to get involved. In fact, the court order includes the delegate list – we might have a financial deficit in the audit but we have a much bigger one when it comes to anyone under 35’s involvement. We have no new leaders with vision, passion and the forethought to help us out of this mire. We have developed an institution that shelters the has beens. The past leaders use to bring the young ones with them – teach them – talk to them about leadership and share the passion of our culture. I guess what we have are few leaders and many dictators – we look more like organized crime then we do a nation of people.

Hence – I repeat maybe we need a Phoenix to Rise from the ashes maybe our Red River Cart needs some new round wheels. Just some thoughts on a cold snap – when reflection is good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The MNC Assembly Update

This is a press release from the Metis Nation of British Columbia dated today:

MNC Settlement Agreement Between Parties Finalized and Signed - Agreement not Determined by the Courts but by the Parties

OTTAWA (January 18, 2008) --- The majority of the members of the Métis National Council (MNC) Board of Governors, consisting of the Métis Nation of British Columbia (MNBC) President Bruce Dumont, Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) President Robert Doucette and Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President Tony Belcourt want to set the record straight on what occurred as a result of a Settlement Conference held before Métis Justice Todd Ducharme in Toronto on January 3, 2008. Justice Ducharme gave effect to the terms of that Settlement Agreement on January 14, 2008 at the request of all Parties.

The Settlement Conference, which was not a judicial hearing, was requested by Presidents Dumont, Poitras, Doucette and Belcourt in an attempt to avoid having key questions of Metis Governance decided in the Courts, as was the preference of Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand and Past MNC President Clem Chartier. Although both Chartrand and Chartier opposed having the Settlement Conference due to their preference for using the Courts, Presidents Dumont, Poitras, Doucette and Belcourt believed in Metis self governance and pressed the Court to order a Settlement Conference rather than litigation, a request that was granted.

In a joint statement Presidents Dumont, Poitras, Doucette and Belcourt said "We were disappointed that Clem Chartier and David Chartrand were opposed to resolving this matter within the Metis Nation rather than through the Courts. We pressed hard to have the critical matter of democratic elections within the MNC dealt with by the Metis people and not the Courts. We were pleased that the Court shared our concern and ordered the Settlement Conference. We are also very pleased that we were able to recommence the General Assembly by working within the Metis Nation rather than through the Courts. Our efforts to settle this within the Metis Nation have resulted in another step forward for the Metis Nation and Metis self governance."

Contrary to the inaccurate statements by MMF President Chartrand and former MNC President Chartier, the Settlement Conference resulted in an Agreement between the "Parties", not a court ruling, and was rendered as a "Consent Order" because it was requested by the "Parties": the "Plaintiffs" who brought the action (Chartrand and Chartier); and the "Defendants" (Dumont, Poitras, Doucette, Belcourt and the Metis National Council). At the insistence of Presidents Dumont, Poitras, Doucette and Belcourt the Agreement included fixing the delegate list for the next General Assembly so as to avoid the issue that was used by Chartrand to disrupt the last General Assembly. It must also be noted and clearly understood that this Agreement was reached in discussion between the Parties themselves without involvement of anyone else including another potential delegates from Alberta and Manitoba who are not named on the Delegate list.

While Presidents Dumont, Poitras, Doucette and Belcourt all reiterated that they are very pleased that their out-of-court settlement both preserved the principle of Metis Self Governance and allows the MNC Assembly to proceed with certainty, not all issues were dealt with by the Agreement. Three key issues remain before the court and are not part of the Settlement Agreement. There is no agreement to reinstate Clem Chartier as MNC President. Still to be dealt with by the courts are the issue of costs and damages. Court costs to date for both parties are in excess of an estimated $350,000. Chartier and Chartrand are claiming their costs against the defendants, including the MNC. Also outstanding is the claim of $300,000 in damages by Clem Chartier against the defendants.

The full text of the Settlement Agreement as given effect through the "Consent Order", which was by the consent of all Parties, and includes the agenda and list of delegates to the MNC AGA., is available on the following websites:


For further information contact:
Bruce Dumont –MNBC….…604-219-0157
Audrey Poitras – MNA ….…780-490-8188
Robert Doucette – MN-S…...306-343-8285
Tony Belcourt – MNO……...613-798-1488 or 613-859-7130 (cell)

It is a very interesting take on the propaganda that Clem and David are trying to introduce. Gives small meaning to self governance when Clem and David obviously have an agenda that is about filling their own boots and using our tax dollar to further that cause. Like I had noted before – even when they say Rick Boucher volunteered not to go for the sake of democracy – it is that Justice Ducharme upheld the decision of the Alberta Judiciary Council. When will lawyers like Clem stop using us to fufil their dreams of becoming wealthy through having us in the middle of court rooms. Even the Supreme Court indicated in Powley that the government and Métis needed to negotiate not litigate.

St. Rita Question

An Anonymous contributor asked me this question yesterday:

Hi Metis Mama:

I would like to ask you a question, What do you think of the tax dollars David spent on the St Rita sign?

Sorry for the delay in the response but I needed time to think about the response. I have some pretty strong views on the issues that relate to this matter.

Firstly, I would like to say that I do not believe that the non profit societies and corporate structures that exist today are what our fore-fathers seen as the representation of our people. They are a poor example for representing anyone other then a select few. They meet governments agenda not our agenda. I am a believer in looking at our fore fathers and the wisdom they had in developing solutions for today. Someone recently told me the organizations like MNC may die but the passion and heart of the Métis people are not dead! In fact, you do not have to read these blogs for long and you see the passion of our people. Our Nation is alive and well – we are in need of refocusing our leaders and cleaning out our closets.

Let me deal with the specifics around St. Rita as a community and the high handedness of what the MMF did. St. Rita is the authority of their destiny – much like our founding father Louis Riel – he worked with the community and moved forward on the will of the people. He did not fly in from some other community and tell them what was good for them. Louis Riel also tried to work with the community that was there not just the Métis but the entire community. He consulted with the Métis, the First Nations and the Europeans that were there. He moved forward to look to develop a community that was inclusive and respectful of everyone. He wrote about respecting all people and developing a nation made up of all of its’ parts. The truth is that the people sought out Louis Riel to be their leader. Not like David Chartrand who is seeking to be the leader. You can not walk into a community and put a sign up declaring yourself the government and that makes it so. Our inherent right ends where it violates the rights of others. If this was a ploy to win a land claim or to influence it – we could easily determine – it failed miserably.

The other issue that I would like to tell you is that I believe one of our greatest challenges is that most of our leaders have lost confidence in the very thing they say they represent. They do not believe in the people. To be a true leader you need to confide, talk and consult the people. There will be times when it is hard to hear what they have to tell you but the truth is you represent them – you go forward with their beliefs – not your own. The Métis people are the strength of our Nation. The true leaders are the individuals who don’t just tell government and industry to consult with the people but truly walk the talk and listen to the community.

I believe in the Métis people and when the leaders begin to believe in them instead of their magnificent egos – then we will be a nation who will show no limits in where we can go.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

MNC Assembly

For any that may be interested – “Any person can run for election of the National President.” There is no qualification of membership or affiliation of any Métis Provincial body. The following is the actual MNC bylaws in relation to the President:

6. (a) The Métis National Council Organizational Structure shall consist of a Métis National Council General Assembly, the Board of Governors and the Office of the President.

8. The Board of Governors shall consist of the Presidents, or designated representative, of each member association and the President of the Métis National Council who shall be the Chief Executive Officer.

Office of the President of the Métis National Council

8.(b) (i) The President of the Métis National Council shall be elected by the Métis National Council General Assembly by 50% plus one of the votes cast.

(ii) The election for the President shall take place between the second and third year of the President’s term and the date for the election shall be set by the Board of Governors.

(iii) The President of the Métis National Council shall be responsible for the management of the Secretariat and shall be the Chief Spokesperson for the Métis National Council, responsible for enhancing and promoting the cultural, social, economic and political interests of the Métis Nation in the spirit of the Riel Government.

(iv) The position of President of the Métis National Council shall not be held by an elected person at the provincial level and will be a full time salaried position with the remuneration determined by the Board of Governors.

(v) Notwithstanding (iv), a person who holds an elected position at the provincial level may be elected as President of the Métis National Council provided that the person relinquishes the position at the provincial level within a reasonable period of time but no later than 90 days following the date of the said election.

(vi) The President shall be responsible for chairing meetings of the Board of Governors and directing its debate.

9. (a) For the purposes of determining the number of voting delegates fro the election of a President of the Métis National Council at a General Assembly, the Presidents of the Founding Members shall have (5) votes each and subject to Paragraph (b), all other Members shall have a minimum of one vote each.

(b) Non founding Members have the right to acquire one additional vote upon providing proof that its membership is equal to at least 40% of the average membership of the Founding Members, and, further they have the right to acquire an additional vote upon providing proof that its membership has increased by at least twenty percent of the average membership of the Founding Members to a maximum of five votes.

On the MNC website you can review a complete file of the bylaws but the ones that pertain to the election of the President have been included here.

It is important to note that ANYONE can run as President. In fact based on the bylaws you are not even required to be Métis.

Now a few problems that exist – it obviously needs to be someone that is saleable to the delegates that attend the assembly. Due to the existing court order – which David so kindly sent around for me to be able to refer to - I am able to report that:

1. The order only lets the Board of Governors meet once prior to the assembly prior to January 31, 2008 for the sole purpose of approving the MNC Financial Statements and Audit for 2006-07 so they can prepare the financial documents for the Assembly. This meeting could only be the five Board of Governors, the Finance Director of MNC and the auditor. This meeting was in Ottawa on Thursday. They could not deal with any other business outside of the finances. I am sure there will be interesting things coming out of this audit and we hope the delegates will have the foresight to scrutinize some of the discrepancies and question the irregularities. Not that it will do much good but the development of resolutions to create policies to prevent more mismanagement is possible.

2. The second issue that is included in the court order is that there will be a MNC General Assembly on February 23 and 24, 2008 in Ottawa. The co-chairs will be Nick Sibbeston and Richard Mirasty. The agenda is as follows:

a. Welcome comments from chair
b. Roll Call
c. Approval of the Agenda (Which has been set and can not be amended based on
the court order.)
d. Appointment of the Elections and Resolution Committee
e. Finance and Administration Report (including Appointment of an Auditor)
f. Overview of election and voting process
g. Nomination of Candidates for President
h. 15 min. Speech from Candidates
i. Vote for Pres.
j. Election results and acceptance speech
k. Updates from governing members
l. Presentation by Métis Youth Advisory
m. Presentation by Women of the Métis Nation
n. Workshop on relationship with Federal Government – update on Métis litigation
o. Developing strategies
p. Resolution
q. Adjourn

The delegates are set as the following:

a. 5 voting delegates for British Columbia - 4 Alternates
b. 5 voting delegates for Ontario - 12 Alternates
c. 15 voting delegates for Saskatchewan - 3 Alternates
d. 15 voting delegates for Manitoba - 3 Alternates
e. 14 voting delegates for Alberta - 6 Alternates

Now to hear Clem and Trevor Gladue tell the story Rick Boucher volunteered not to participate but the truth is the mediating Judge advised the Board of Governors that nobody in their right mind would make Alberta bring Rick Boucher after he reviewed the decision on his conflict of interest where he is suspended. The Magistrate upheld the decision of Alberta’s Métis Judiciary Council.

Back to the issues – in Manitoba there are three Board members who David is not taking – they are not alternates or any part of the meeting - Rosemarie Mcpherson, Ron Chartrand and Anita Campbell. It appears like these three individuals have been asking too many questions and David feels he can’t trust them. Jean Desrosiers is on holidays and can not be there.

Now the last thing I am going to put here for now is what I can find out about the chairs:

Richard Mirasty is a Métis lawyer who until recently was the Director of the Indigenous Law Program at the University of Alberta. (David and Clem’s pick as a chair)

Honorable Nick Sibbeston - a Métis lawyer from the North West Territories. Senator Sibbeston was the first Aboriginal lawyer in the history of the Northwest Territories. In 1979, he was elected a MLA. By 1984, he was a cabinet minister. 1986 he was Premier of the Northwest Territories. In 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed him to the Senate of Canada. (He is the other four governing members pick)

The chairs will have a challenging time trying to control the meeting but anything will beat the Will Gooden – Dale Leclair gong show at the last assembly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Metis Statistics Look Good for Us

I am so excited to be able to confidently say the Métis are truly reflected within the statistical analysis of the Aboriginal peoples survey. It has taken many committed individuals working with the statisticians to come up with data that is more reflective of the true mosaic of Canada including its Aboriginal people. The report released today has the Métis making up better then 1/3 of the Aboriginal population of Canada.

The Edmonton Journal is responding to the release of the new Aboriginal Census results and reporting that, “At 1,172,790, the 2006 census marked the first time people identifying themselves as aboriginal passed the million mark. This group is growing almost six times faster than the non-aboriginal population, surging 45 per cent in the previous decade compared to an eight per cent increase in the rest of the population.”

They also reported that, “The Metis population in Canada nearly doubled between 1996 and 2006, up 91 per cent to 389,785 people. That's more than 11 times the growth rate of the non-aboriginal Canadian population and over three times that of First Nations and Inuit.
As with the surging aboriginal population in general, Statistics Canada attributes the Metis boom to high fertility rates and to more people choosing to self-identify with that group. “

Another interesting statistic that was contained in the report was “Close to 9 out of 10 people, about 87%, who identified themselves as Métis, lived in either the western provinces or Ontario. The census enumerated 85,500, or 22%, in Alberta; 73,605, or 19%, in Ontario; 71,805, or 18%, in Manitoba; 59,445, or 15%, in British Columbia; and 48,115, or 12%, in Saskatchewan.”

Now there are a great deal of things that we can demise from the statistics and there is always arguments as to the nature of the collection of the data especially politically when leaders see that they are challenged by the results but this is my view on some of the preliminary review that I did:

  1. The statistics are derived from individuals who self identify and the truth is the Métis National Council may argue that the definition of “Métis” is not widely enough understood for some of the individuals that are identifying to be able to discern between the MNC definition and the ideology that Métis are the mixed bloods.
  2. Whether they try to discredit the statistics the Métis have doubled in numbers over the past decade. Our children are now feeling a better sense of pride in who they are. The words of Louis Riel telling the Canadian Government that his people would rise again is coming into reality. Our children and grandchildren will stand to be proud Métis if the leaders of our nation are held accountable to the people they represent.
  3. The myth that the Métis of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba need a larger number of voting seats at the Métis National Council table because they represent the majority of the Métis in Canada. Obviously, much like our grandfathers we are a transient people who go to where the opportunities are to be self sustaining hard working people. If that meant Ontario, British Columbia or some other location – we moved and increased in numbers. Ontario now represents the second largest provincial group of Métis people. How can we continue to punish the Métis who live outside of the Métis homeland from their rightful place within our organization?
  4. With the numbers that came forward – the founding provincial governing members will be more threatened then ever to move us into true democracy and nationhood by letting the Métis from across Canada have one vote per Métis citizen in a vote for the National leader.

The report can be accessed at the following link: