Elected president of the Métis Nation B.C., Clara Morin Dal Col, has been suspended from her position amid escalating tension within its leadership.
Nine members of the board voted to suspend her from her role as president in an unexpected meeting on Monday, tapping vice-president Lissa Dawn Smith to step in as acting president.
Tension between Dal Col and board members has been playing out publicly for weeks, with waves of reactions from Métis people in B.C. throughout the turmoil.
There are more than 21,000 registered citizens with Métis Nation B.C. which has 11 board members, including Dal Col.
Some citizens have publicly taken sides, while others are expressing confusion and concern. Many are calling for more transparency around the events that led up to Dal Col’s suspension after it was publicly announced on Tuesday.
“This was not a decision taken lightly by the board,” read a public statement released by Métis Nation B.C. on Tuesday.
The specific reasons for the suspension were unclear in the statement — beyond broad allegations that Dal Col had contravened the oath of office and breached policies and procedures.
The statement said, “the board was left with no other option but to issue a suspension.”
Métis National Council calls suspension a ‘shocking coup’
Leadership of the Manitoba Métis Federation and Métis National Council published a joint press release about Dal Col’s suspension on Thursday, characterizing the board’s actions as a “shocking coup.”
“This is a black eye for democracy,” wrote Métis National Council president Clément Chartier.
“We are disgusted by this underhanded attempt to eliminate a rightfully elected leader.”
The press release also stated that the federation and national council will not recognize Smith as the Métis Nation B.C. president.
The mandate and direction of the national council flows from regionally elected leadership from the Métis governing bodies in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
There is ongoing tension and disagreement around the standing of the Métis Nation of Ontario at the national council.
Public statements from Métis Nation B.C. and Dal Col in the lead-up to her suspension show that dispute over the status of the Ontario organization is among many points of disagreement between board members and Dal Col.
Daniel Fontaine, CEO of Métis Nation B.C., was limited in what he would say about the suspension citing due process and Dal Col’s right to appeal.
“For us as public servants working at Métis Nation, our role is really to make sure that due process is undertaken. We want to make sure that all of our bylaws, our constitution, everything is properly adhered to,” he said.
“I’m confident that the process is unfolding as it should and we’ll see what happens.”
When asked about the statement put out by the Manitoba Métis Federation and the National Council, Fontaine said he anticipates the board will issue a response soon.
Dal Col was first elected president of the Métis Nation B.C. in 2016 and re-elected in 2020, securing 48 per cent of the votes cast for three candidates.
Dal Col was not available for an interview prior to publishing.