Self-identification of Métis identity good enough for COVID data collection, but sparks human rights complaint

Friday, September 11th, 2020 12:51pm


Image Caption

Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand


"Discussions with the province came to a halt after we requested that Métis citizens be verified by the MMF.” —President David Chartrand

The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) announced today that it has filed a complaint against the Manitoba government, Cameron Friesen, minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer.

The complain alleges the Métis community has been subject to discrimination and systemic discrimination throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Dr. Roussin said in the media months ago that the province was prepared to engage with the Manitoba Métis on a data sharing agreement,” said MMF President David Chartrand. “We sent letters intended to initiate the discussions necessary to reach an agreement with Manitoba, but never received a positive response."

"Discussions with the province came to a halt after we requested that Métis citizens be verified by the MMF.” The position of the province was that self-identification was sufficient evidence of someone being Métis, a press statement from the MMF said.

MMF believes that when it comes to statistics about Métis, there are some people who “falsely identify as Métis.

"Sharing incorrect data created by those who falsely identify as Métis comes with a number of problems,” said Chartrand.

The MMF reports it sent several letters between the months of April and August requesting Manitoba engage in a data sharing agreement whereby the MMF could confirm the identity of those who self-identify as Métis, but never received a formal response.

"Because of the lack of a data sharing agreement, a Métis Nation citizen could get sick and we have no way of being notified," said MMF Minister of Health Frances Chartrand.

"We have been forced to rely on word of mouth from the Manitoba Métis community to tell us that a Métis citizen has contracted COVID-19 and is in need of our support. Any data analyzed by the province using false identifications of Métis would not be useful."

On Sept. 10, at the end of the working day, the MMF’s legal counsel received a letter from Minister Friesen’s office expressing interest in working with the MMF.

"This letter is an eleventh-hour response after months of the MMF trying to get the Minister’s attention. The Minister is grasping at straws. This is clearly a last-minute response to recent media inquiries directed to the Minister’s Office," said President Chartrand. "Even so, the letter does not address our concerns over data collection, its quality, or its use, and it does not fix the fact that we have been abandoned by Manitoba since the initial outbreak."