Manitoba Métis leader sues B.C. group for libel
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/04/2022 (411 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba Métis leader David Chartrand is suing Métis Nation British Columbia over a full-page newspaper advertisement that suggested he was diverting funds to start a splinter group in B.C. — a claim he says is libellous.
In a court filing last week, the Manitoba Métis Federation and Chartrand, its president, pushed back on insinuations both had mismanaged funds meant for social services, asking a judge to award financial compensation.
Both groups are part of a simmering debate within Indigenous governance over who is actually Métis.
In September 2021, Chartrand had pulled the MMF out of the Métis National Council, abandoning the other four provincial branches.
He claimed the other branches are registering too many people with spurious claims to Métis ancestry, who might lack any ties to the Red River Colony and dilute the Indigenous nation’s history and culture.
The MMF has since started issuing citizenship cards to Métis residing outside of Manitoba who fit the MMF definition, calling those people Red River Métis.
Last December, the national council’s B.C. branch took out a full-page ad in the Free Press with the title “MMF exposed,” accusing Chartrand of “paying his friends’ salaries in B.C.”
The ad mentions a request for $634,000 made to the MMF by a rival upstart group in B.C., which was founded by the MNBC’s deposed president, who has similar views as Chartrand about Métis identity.
Chartrand says he never approved of that funding request, and the two groups are not tied.
In a statement of claim, filed April 19 in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, the MMF says it had asked MNBC to take down a YouTube video making those allegations. The B.C. group instead placed its ad in the Free Press.
“The words and defamatory meanings have caused irreparable harm to the plaintiffs, whose business, governance and effectiveness as advocates depend upon their valuable and significant pre-existing reputations for integrity,” reads Chartrand’s claim, which did not accuse the Winnipeg newspaper of libel.
None of these allegations have been proven in court.
Meanwhile, the Métis National Council sued Chartrand, the MMF and multiple affiliates in January, in a case that has not been yet heard by Ontario court.
The council alleges Chartrand helped divert federal funds to associates and had excessive sums paid to his wife.
Chartrand has countered that those claims are a vindictive mischaracterization of normal financial practices and parting gifts for executives.
Updated on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 8:43 AM CDT: Amends reference to B.C. group