Parallel to regional poverty reduction strategy meetings that have been held across the province, the Métis Nation of B.C. is holding its own series of consultations in hopes of influencing B.C.'s poverty reduction strategy.
The Métis Nation of British Columbia will be holding one of these sessions in Prince George on Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Ramada Prince George. The provincial government has been holding consultations throughout the province in advance of its upcoming poverty reduction strategy, which will outline targets and timelines to cut poverty in B.C. A previous consultation, held in Prince George last month drew roughly 75 people.
Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, recently announced the plan's introduction will be delayed until the fall. The B.C. NDP government had planned to announce the plan in the Spring.
According to Gail Parenteau, of Métis Nation British Columbia, the MNBC have received targeted funding to hold their own poverty reduction meetings in communities throughout B.C. Other First Nations in the province have not held their own meetings, although many have participated in the other 28 community meetings that have been held, or are planned, throughout the province.
According to Parenteau, Métis people have a specific lens with which they look at poverty.
"When you look at different things like poverty and health and wellness and things like that, each culture has its own demographic and beliefs of what the causes and cures can be," she said.
Parenteau said levels of poverty are elevated in Métis communities.
"Some of our communities have almost as close as 30 per cent of the children living in poverty," she said.
Like First Nations people, the Métis, people of mixed aboriginal and European origin, suffered the effects of the residential school system. Children were removed from their communities and many experienced significant loss of culture and identity.
Parenteau said the experience of Métis people with poverty is similar to, but distinct from, that of First Nations in B.C.
"We have a whole different lens of looking at poverty," she said.
"The Métis now are more driven by finance and having the money to do all this stuff instead of living off the land. So we have a very twisted culture right now because it's not stable."
Parenteau said MNBC has so far held consultations with self-identified and registered Mtis in Nanaimo, Abbottsford, Kelowna, Cranbrook and Terrace. Following the Prince George meeting on Saturday, the last consultation will take place the following Saturday in Hudson Hope.
Métis individuals interested in registering for the Prince George consultation can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-940-1150.