Back in the saddle
Morin returned as Metis Nation president

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 08/00) - The tug-of-war at the Metis Nation continues.

George Morin, ousted as president in late April, says he has regained control of the leadership.

With a majority showing of support, Morin has wrestled the leadership from the hands of Richard Lafferty, who had stepped in as interim administrator in a bid to overthrow the Metis leader.

Lafferty stepped in after a group of Metis local presidents held a board meeting to gain control of the Metis Nation in a vote of non-confidence against Morin.

During the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples annual general assembly held recently in Ottawa, Morin said a majority group of Metis presidents endorsed him as "the only legitimate president of the Metis Nation NWT.

"I saw this as an opportunity for us all to come together in a non-confrontational setting to work things out," Morin said. "It was an opportunity for everyone to have an open, frank discussion, with all the issues that we've been going through here."

With that support, Morin says he has regained his seat at the nation's headquarters.

Richard Lafferty, who briefly replaced Morin, said the issue of who really leaders the Metis Nation remains unresolved.

"George hasn't been reinstated by any formal motion," Lafferty said. "He's got a partial resolution signed by some of the board members, but in order for the resolution to be effective, it has to be signed by all board members."

He also accused Morin and board member Bill Enge of illegally gaining access to the nation's office in Yellowknife.

"There's been a break and enter and George Morin is in there without proper authority," he said. "They don't have signing authority, they don't have any authority."

Morin said Lafferty's claims were ludicrous, and that he and Enge had done nothing outside the law.

"I took my office back," Morin stated. "Bill is one of the board of directors and has authority to go into the office whenever he wants."

With the help of a locksmith, Morin said he and Enge had entered the office after hours "to avoid confrontation."

"If anyone's entered the office illegally, he should look in the mirror," Morin added.

The troubles date back to the nation's annual grand assembly in Fort Simpson.

At the AGA, a motion excluding Bill C-31 status Indians from membership was passed. Morin said some of the members were deliberately misled, fuelled by personal grievances some board members had towards Morin and his dealing with the Metis membership issue.

The group who met in Ottawa has come up with several solutions to deal with the membership issue, including regionally-based representation for the locals.

"We looked at where we are at right now and we said, 'Well we've just about hit bottom,'" Morin added.

He explained the next step is to hold a board meeting early this week to restore signing authority, set a date for an AGA, and appoint an interim vice-president.

He says the group is looking to hold the AGA in July and he said he'd like to hold the assembly in Fort Resolution to coincide with the Dene National Assembly and the Centenary of Treaty 8.