KAMLOOPS – The president of the B.C. Métis Federation is calling a decision by two native groups in Kamloops to pull out of an Aboriginal Day event planned for today unethical.
The conflict was created by a newspaper ad for the celebration paid for by the Métis Federation on which the group’s logo appears, according to president Keith Henry.
Henry says the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society and Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services pulled their financial support for the June 21 celebration late Friday afternoon and cancelled the event.
“I’m at a loss as to how an event can be cancelled on a whim,” he says. “This is nothing but personal politics.”
Henry says the actions by the two agencies in Kamloops are very disturbing and accuses the leadership of using their programs to manipulate and politicize cultural events.
The federation paid for a newspaper ad to help promote today’s event in McDonald Park and the other agencies were invited to contribute but declined, he says. The ad included Métis Federation branding in exchange for covering the cost.
Henry says he was told the two agencies considered the Métis branding in the ad a sign of disrespect. He calls their actions unethical.
“At a time of truth and reconciliation I cannot understand how any efforts to increase public awareness for National Aboriginal Day could be so distorted by agencies playing politics,” he says.
Henry says the decision to pull it’s support calls into question an agreement the federation has with the Lii Michif Otipemisiwak to support Métis culture and provide services to their members.
Henry says a Métis event planned by the White Buffalo Aboriginal and Métis Health Society for Monday will go ahead as planned.
Calls to Lii Michif Otipemisiwak executive director Collen Lucier and Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society executive director Christopher Phillips have not yet been returned.