The founding President of the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) says there is a cloud hanging over the heads of Metis people in that province.
Tony Belcourt is not alone in expressing concerns.
Metis Council’s in Ontario are raising alarms over a lack of transparency at the top of the MNO, spending practices and negotiations with the federal government.
In a recent blog post, Belcourt wrote there is a “crisis of confidence” in the Metis Nation of Ontario.
Belcourt says many in the province are going to lose their citizenship card and voting rights.
In a phone interview, the long-time Metis rights leader says the MNO is trying to “ignore or get rid of the very people who built the organization in the first place. Before there wasn’t any money. There’s millions at the table now but when we started there wasn’t a penny.”
Belcourt believes there are currently a lot of citizens of the Metis Nation in Ontario that are “concerned, upset and emotionally distraught.”
Belcourt is not alone.
The Sudbury Metis Council recently passed a resolution calling on the Provisional Council of the Metis Nation of Ontario to “immediately call a special assembly” to provide information and direction to the PCMNO on a number of pressing issues.
Among them, a “forensic audit investigation of the executive and senior management of the MNO by Deloitte leaked on social media, providing some troubling financial facts and mismanagement of MNO funds.”
The resolution also calls for more information on the one-year probation the MNO is currently on following a vote by the Metis National Council, and the Canada – MNO Framework Agreement being negotiated “without consultation with its citizens.”
The Provisional Council of the MNO is comprised of a five member executive, nine regional councillors, four senators, a youth representative and a post-secondary representative.
The resolution has been approved by other Metis councils in Ontario including the Clear Waters Metis Council (CWMC).
Clear Waters Metis Council Women’s representative, Tobias Clarke says there is a “lack of transparency and openness from the Provisional Council of the Metis Nation of Ontario.”
Clarke, in a series of Facebook messages says she feels the MNO leadership is “demonizing, bullying” and using “scare tactics throughout the nation regarding MNO citizens who are speaking out and asking questions.”
APTN News has obtained a copy of the report by Deloitte titled “Metis Nation of Ontario: Investigation into potential overpayments of compensation and related payments to executive and senior management.”
The report says Deloitte was “engaged by MNO in late December 2017 to undertake the investigation.”
The report identified four primary issues including “compensation policies” and “compensation calculation errors resulting in overpayments to Executives.”
The MNO would not verify the validity of the report or whether it was a draft report.
A request for an interview with MNO President Margaret Froh also went unanswered.
Belcourt and Clarke both expressed concerns about Deloitte document but wanted to wait for “hard facts.”
Belcourt feels some of the issues going on internally with the MNO are related to the start of a new registry process that Belcourt says “has a narrow definition of who may be a Metis citizen.”
One of the conditions the MNO must meet before the MNC probation will be lifted is to “abide by the 2004 Métis Nation directive providing that all members shall re-register under the 2002 criteria with no grandfathering-in of members.”
The MNC also wants the MNO to rescind its declaration of six new historic Metis communities.
According to the resolution being circulated, there are concerns that complying with all of the conditions would eliminate 90 percent of the MNO citizens in Ontario.
The resolution being approved by some Metis councils is calling for a Special Assembly to be scheduled before May 1st.
Belcourt feels one of the ways to correct the crisis of confidence would be for the Provisional Council of the Metis Nation of Ontario to issue a declaration that the MNO represents all MNO citizens.
She says “the only path forward should be for the PCMNO to properly represent all the MNO citizens inclusively with no divide.”