British Columbia

Métis Nation in B.C. votes to declare self-government, with plans to forge new relationship with province

The more than 20,000 registered citizens of Métis Nation B.C. have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new government-to-government relationship with the hope it will result in more provincial support for the revitalization of Métis culture and language.

'We really wanted to have political efficacy for our people'

Lily Mervyn, whose mother is Métis and father is of Cherokee heritage, at an Indigenous-rights demonstration in Surrey, B.C., in 2013. By declaring self-government in 2021, the Métis Nation of B.C. can now create its own insitutions to help revitalize its language and culture. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

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.

'I think Métis history illustrates how Métis people have always been a people that have always got together to govern ourselves': MNBC Minister of Culture Patrick Harriott. (

Future possibilities

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.

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