Bitter Feuding Leads to Metis Nation Saskatchewan Defaulting

The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan has been placed in default of its funding agreement with the Federal Government. The organization will lose its funding effective November 1, 2014. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt has sent a letter to the Metis leaders across Saskatchewan explaining the reasons of his ministry’s decision.

“It is my understanding that as of September 30, 2014, the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan has not been able to hold a properly and duly called Legislative Assembly due to ongoing internal governance issues, and as a result it is in default of its funding agreement as of October 1, 2014. Therefore, the federal government is holding Metis Nation-Saskatchewan to the terms and conditions of their Basic Organizational Capacity agreement and halting all payments to Metis Nation-Saskatchewan as of November 1, 2014,” said Valcourt in the letter dated October 1st, 2014, addressed to Metis Nation-Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette. “It is my hope that Metis Nation-Saskatchewan finds a way to effectively and efficiently give the Metis people of Saskatchewan the governance that they deserve — one which is transparent, accountable and democratic. I also firmly believe that taxpayer dollars are to be used wisely and for the benefit of all Canadians.”

This letter was long overdue. A divisive rift between the board members has led to no provincial council meetings being held. If no council meetings are held then that would mean no Legislative Assemblies can be called. The way the Federal Government sees it, if there are no council meetings and Legislative Assemblies, then there can be no governance, so no funding for the governance should be provided.

MN-S President Robert Doucette insists he has tried to call repeated meetings since this summer and has provided audits and other information requested but to no avail. “It is sad that it has come to this,” said Doucette. “At the end of the day, Metis citizens are impacted the most when their leaders don’t work together. I am attempting to convene a PMC (provincial council) meeting next week. I hope the majority of them will attend.”

Darlene McKay, Area Director for Western Region 2 disputes Doucette’s assertion that they won’t meet. “We have invited him and the executive to several meetings where we had quorum but they didn’t show up,” said McKay from her office in Prince Albert. “And Robert insists on calling a meeting with one agenda item, an MNLA (Legislative Assembly). But how can us as a Council go to an MNLA when we have not had proper reporting for years. We want full documentation on several different topics including the taxes owed at Batoche. We are responsible for this.”

The Metis Nation-Saskatchewan has 12 Regions, each with a volunteer Area Director and an estimated 130 Locals, of which, according to a report made by auditing firm Delloite, only 30 Locals actually fit the Constitutional criteria to qualify as a Local. The governance struggles, the lack of progress and the public animosity between board members have been very frustrating for Metis people in Saskatchewan.

The funding cut shouldn’t impact most of the average Metis citizens in Saskatchewan, and may be even welcomed for those who are eager for change. Some are reliant of this funding though, for educational, health and social needs. It will directly affect the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan Executive and staff. The feud and struggles at the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan have been running for years and some see this as a breaking point. “There may be no impact at all in the community,” said Murray Hamilton, an educator and former Vice President of the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan. “It has come to the point that the Metis Nation has no significance on our daily lives and is almost irrelevant. I would worry about Batoche and our affiliates, but I ask you this. Are you going to miss your Area Director?”