By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Wayne Lucier and his sister, Marlene Swears, of Williams Lake are candidates in the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) general election coming up this September.
Lucier is running for vice-president and Swears for a regional director for the area, including 100 Mile House.
Deborah Canada of Kamloops, who is a member of the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association in Williams Lake, is running for president, while Dawna Short, from Williams Lake, has been acclaimed as the regional women’s representative.
Lucier said he was inspired to run because he believes Métis people living outside of Hope are not being served by the MNBC and it is time for a change.
“People on the other side of Hope get funding for skills training and things like that. We need some of that funding for our people here.”
Swears said she became interested in Métis politics when she was a 13-year-old living in Roblin, Manitoba.
“When we moved out to B.C., I became involved when I was about 25 years old in the Métis movement.
“I was one of the founding members of the Cariboo Chilcotin Métis Association [CCMA] here in Williams Lake. We’ve been operating just about 18 years.”
One of the things Swears is passionate about is becoming involved with more provincial initiatives within the association.
“I feel as a regional director I can bring some issues up to the top that can be looked at in the ways of education. I want our membership to know that education is forefront for me as well as community growth.”
Because of the work of Harry Daniels – who spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of Métis and First Nations people – that culminated with the Supreme Court of Canada ruling last fall that 600,000 Métis and non-status First Nations are “Indians” under the Constitution, there are more people across Canada wanting to apply for their Métis status, Swears said.
“I want to ensure our people are counted in a viable way. Being part of a recognized accountable body like the MNBC as a regional director, would enable me to bring some of these issues to the forefront.
“I also want to help make our people aware of what is happening with their own level of government, provincially and federally.”
In Williams Lake the association has been going strong, but there are communities that open a Métis association, but then end up shutting their doors because they don’t know how to be sustainable, she added.
It’s politics, she said.
“Sometimes those politicians don’t fulfill what they promise their communities, but communities need to also step up and say what they want their association to provide.”
The [CCCMA], for example, puts on barbecues, participates in multicultural events and helps other organizations wherever it can.
“I think I can share some of our successes with other communities if I am elected,” she added.
If elected, Swears would represent the region covering the communities of Prince George, Williams Lake, Valemount, Bella Coola, 100 Mile House and outlying areas.
Monica Lamb-Yorski is a writer for the Williams Lake Tribune.