POLITICS

Saskatchewan Metis group closing its doors due to no government funding

03/31/2015 03:39 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT
SASKATOON - The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan is closing its doors.

MN-S president Robert Doucette says it's a sad day for the organization that represents about 100,000 Metis in the province.

It comes after political infighting which resulted in the Provincial Métis Council, which supports MN-S vice-president Gerald Morin, not holding any meetings and therefore no date was set for a provincial legislative assembly since 2010.

The federal government halted funding to the group in October 2014 because it failed to follow its financial agreement, which requires two assemblies a year.

Without the $416,000 annual federal operating grant, MN-S let its employees go and is locking the doors today.

Doucette says the group will use the last of its funds to pay rent on its building which holds thousands of files from Métis people for a registry and applications for Métis citizenship, as well as a genealogical library.

"Métis citizens can't register now, people that rely on those citizenship cards to get scholarships or to get funding for whatever program... all of the things that we are supposed to be doing to help the Métis citizens of this province to live a better lifestyle are going by the wayside," Doucette said.

He said other programs, including one to prevent suicide and another for cancer have already been lost.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada said that funding would be reinstated if a successful assembly was held.

"This isn't only about the funding. It's about actually having all of the basis of our governance working in order," Doucettle said.

"The constitutional document that governs our organization is so dysfunctional that it needs to be changed."

The closure may not be permanent if a case in front of the Court of Queen's bench rules that a legislative assembly must be held sooner than the September date selected by the council. That date was chosen at a PMC meeting in January only after the court ordered a meeting the month prior.

"Let just go to an early assembly. The local presidents will probably give us, both sides, our lumps but we should take that because at the end of the day leaders take direction," Doucette said.

(CKOM)