B.C. Metis Federation forms alliance after defeat at B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

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      The B.C. Métis Federation and the Métis Federation of Canada have announced a memorandum of understanding to guide the two organizations on how to work together in the future.

      It came while the leadership of the B.C Mètis Federation was in Ottawa to meet with the federal Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

      And it was announced two days after the B.C Mètis Federation had a human-rights complaint dismissed in which evidence was advanced about its lack ties to the Mètis National Council.

      On June 11, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal granted a B.C. government application to toss aside a B.C. Métis Federation complaint against the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

      The federation alleged that the two ministries "have failed or refused to recognize or engage" with the organization as the representative of approximately 6,300 Métis people in B.C., as well as numerous community organizations.

      According to the federation, the government chose instead to deal with the Mètis Nation British Columbia, which is a governing member of the Mètis National Council.

      In a written ruling, tribunal member Murray Geiger-Adams stated that the government provided affidavits from the Ministry of Children and Family Development's director of aboriginal service change, Rob Parenteau, and the director of the community development branch with the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Susan Kelly.

      The federation did not rely on affidavit evidence and instead filed what Geiger-Adams described as "numerous documents, including a 17-page letter submission, print-outs of web pages, case authorities, legislation, parliamentary proceedings, and other documents.

      "Though the letter submission refers to various 'Schedules' by number, the accompanying documents are not numbered, nor are they listed, paginated, or indexed in any way," Geiger-Adams wrote. "This is not a helpful way to put material before the Tribunal and is a significant obstacle to the Tribunal's ability to understand, and give proper consideration to, the Federation's response to the application."

      The federation cited three instances of alleged discrimination in its initial complaint.

      * In November 2012, the minister of children and family development ignored the federation's request to participate in future meetings concering the Métis Child and Family Framework.

      * The minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation did not respond to the federation's queries about why it and its communities were ignored in an announcement regarding an Off Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan.

      * The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation failed to conduct public consultations with the federation in the drafting of a consultation guide; the federation alleged that this was a violation of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

      "To succeed in its complaint at a hearing, the Federation would have to show that it represents members of a protected group (in this case persons of Métis ancestry), that the respondents treated it adversely with respect to a service customarily available to the public (in this case recognizing, consulting, and funding the Nation in preference to the Federation), and that there was a connection between the characteristic and the adverse treatment," Geiger-Adams wrote. "The Federation need only show that race or ancestry was a basis for the adverse treatment, not the only, or even the principal basis for such treatment..."

      The B.C. government argued that the ministries' recognition of the Mètis Nation of B.C. aligns with the federal government's recognition and funding of this organization.

      The ministries also maintained that the federation has no formal relationship with the federal government.

      In the human-rights case, the federation argued that it's "more democratic, accountable, and fiscally responsible" than Mètis Nation of B.C.

      "But this is not an assertion that the Ministries are discriminating against those the Federation represents because of their race or ancestry," Geiger-Adams wrote. "It is not for the Tribunal to determine whether those are wise choices, or whether the Federation is a more worthy partner; it can only deal with claims of discrimination on the grounds, including race and ancestry, set out in the code."

      As a result, Geiger-Adams ruled the complaint had "no reasonable prospect of success because it does not allege a connection between any adverse treatment and the race or ancestry of the person it represents."