Métis Nation in B.C. votes to declare self-government, with plans to forge new relationship with province
'We really wanted to have political efficacy for our people'
Members of the largest Indigenous nation in the province have voted to declare self-government with the goal of preserving its culture and language for future generations.
The vote, held during Métis Nation British Columbia's (MNBC) annual general meeting in February, makes MNBC and its 20,000 registered citizens the official government of the Métis community in B.C.
Patrick Harriott, minister of culture, language and heritage for MNBC, says it also means engaging in a government-to-government relationship with the province moving forwards, something he hopes will mean more money and support for projects important to Métis people.
"We are just not getting that kind of attention from government," said Harriott, speaking Monday on CBC's On The Coast.
Harriott said while the Michif language of Métis people is considered endangered, MNBC has not been able to access any of the $50 million for Indigenous language revitalization announced by the province in 2018 and this move could change that.
It could also help MNBC establish a formal agreement with the province when it comes to government care of Métis children and the families they are placed with.
🚨Online Michif Language Workshops🚨<br><br>Open to all ages. It is an opportunity to learn more about the Métis culture and to learn basic Michif language with a traditional Michif speaker. Visit <a href="https://t.co/lvlVU4Dcfb">https://t.co/lvlVU4Dcfb</a> for details. <a href="https://t.co/BJJHEDSMBU">pic.twitter.com/BJJHEDSMBU</a>—@MetisNationBC
By declaring self-government, MNBC can also create its own institutions.
Harriott said he felt the timing was right to take this step in the wake of B.C.'s passing of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2019.
"We really wanted political efficacy for our people," he said.
The next step, according to Harriott, is for MNBC and provincial government delegates to discuss the finer details of the new relationship.
LISTEN | Patrick Harriott talks to CBC's On The Coast about a historic milestone in B.C. Indigenous history:
With files from On The Coast