Morin under fire
Deh Cho Metis Locals join in call for leadership reform

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Feb 11/00) - Ten Metis communities have publicly declared they have lost confidence in the leadership of Metis Nation NWT president George Morin.

Fort Providence Local #57, Fort Simpson Local #52 and Fort Liard Local #67 have added their voices to the fray. A press release issued jointly by the 10 communities states that the rights of all NWT Metis people are not being properly represented by Nation headquarters.

After holding a non-confidence vote, the locals are requesting that Morin step aside until all internal matters have been resolved.

"We have to get him (Morin) out of there first, and then I think we can have a committee work on it and sort it out from there," said Ernie McLeod, president of the Fort Liard Metis local.

Albert Lafferty, president of the Fort Providence Metis Local, suggested the Metis Territorial board of directors could take control of the Metis Nation and appoint a management team with a management plan until the next annual general assembly.

Lafferty noted that he would like to see the Metis Nation reorganized to allow for flexibility with regional and community autonomy under a central organization. That way it would better reflect the needs of all Metis communities, he stated.

If the current tensions between the South Slave Metis Alliance and the rest of the communities cannot be resolved, then two separate organizations are a possibility, according to Lafferty.

"For the benefit of our future generations, the rest of the Metis in the Western Arctic cannot afford to discriminate against their fellow Metis," he wrote. "If reason does not prevail and reorganization is not possible, then the Northern Metis will likely reorganize their communities under a new organization to be known as the Northwest Metis Federation."

As stated in the joint press release, Northern Metis communities can no longer see a working relationship under the Metis Nation's current organizational structure.

"The fact that the Northern Metis communities are being ignored, and the Metis headquarters in Yellowknife has basically been commandeered by an executive which favours the South Slave, it's simply not acceptable to the Metis in the Western Arctic," the document reads.

The press release also refers to the current political structure working against the 10 Metis communities by attempting to restrict the involvement and membership of many indigenous Metis, some of whom have acquired treaty status.

Much of the animosity stems from a motion passed during last year's Metis Nation annual general assembly in Fort Simpson, where those with Indian Status under Bill C-31 had their voting rights revoked. The resolution of non-confidence states that those who were accepted under Bill C-31 were promised at a previous annual assembly that they would remain members of the Metis Nation.

Morin was unavailable for comment as of press time.