Fraser Valley/Burnaby/Vancouver – Burnaby (Josh Olund BCIT Radio A&E) – Métis Nation BC is reconsidering whether BCIT is a culturally safe environment for its citizens after an offensive, derogatory email was sent out by an employee from BCIT.
BCIT confirmed the existence of the email, announcing an investigation into the matter in a joint statement Sunday with Métis Nation BC (MNBC).
“BCIT recognizes and unreservedly apologizes for the deep harm such words have on Métis staff, faculty, students and citizens across the province,”it reads.“BCIT takes this complaint very seriously and has investigated and addressed this issue internally, consistent with internal policies and legally mandated employee privacy and confidentiality considerations.”
Daniel Fontaine, MNBC CEO and Deputy Minister, says an internal investigation isn’t enough to ensure accountability – particularly given the role of this staff member currently at the post-secondary institution.“As a Métis citizen myself, it was offensive to me,and the commentary in there was hurtful to Métis people across British Columbia,” Fontaine said.“It was written by a senior official who works within their Indigenous initiatives and partnerships branch, so someone who should clearly understand,have empathy and understanding for Métis people, and the rights to self-determination and self-governance,”he said.The email was sent to the MNBC anonymously last month.
According to Fontaine, the content disparages Métis by saying they don’t deserve the same rights as First Nations and implied Métis people are legitimately or authentically Indigenous.It was also linked to a column containing what Fontaine describes as similarly derogatory statements.Fontaine says when BCIT leadership learned about the email, the seriousness was immediately recognized.
Louis De Jagger is a board member with Metis Nation BC and active with Stolo Business. He told FVN: Greg Le Blanc the person teaching their ‘Indigenous 101’ course, Kory Wilson, said about us “Just because a person has one Indigenous ancestor does not make a person Indigenous” and that “Métis people don’t have the right to self-government in B.C.” While I have a serious problem with the issue of Indigenous self-declaration, these are very troubling blanket statements about Métis people, and the Métis Nation. Ms. Wilson is a lawyer, teaches Indigenous 101, the Indigenization of institutions, and the implications of the BC Declaration Act (UNDRIP). Therefore, I can’t even say that these statements are ignorant as she is not an ignorant person. These statements are bigoted and prejudiced. It calls into question what Ms. Wilson is teaching about Métis people in these courses??