After working for the Metis Nation of B.C. (MNBC) for many years, helping to establish and run Women for MNBC, Victoria Pruden felt like she was ready to take on a new challenge.
So now Pruden, the executive director of the non-profit Bridges for Women Society, has decided to run for the chair of the Metis Women of B.C., with hopes of addressing the needs of the province’s Metis women.
“I feel we haven’t done as good of a job as we could have done so far about identifying and supporting particularly marginalized Metis women who may be homeless or at risk of homelessness, women experiencing violence, drug addiction,” said Pruden, who is also the current president of the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria.
“I really want to see us create better partnerships to be able to identity those women and to provide more supports for them. We have a real responsibility to try to help those people.”
According to Pruden, many Metis women have experienced either family violence, relationship violence or have some history of trauma, but they don’t have the same opportunity to access low cost or no cost treatment services.
Pruden’s career path is deeply rooted in her own family’s experience where some women were exposed to violence as children and adults for generations. She’s experienced it as well.
At the Bridges for Women Society in Victoria, women impacted by trauma and violence are provided with programs and services to help transform their lives. One of the reasons Pruden decided to get into healing work is to make a difference for other women, families and children who’ve experienced oppression or abuse.
Now she wants to make a difference on a bigger scale.
“I think this is a really critical time for us (Metis). We’ve been waiting a long time for the federal government to recognize that we’re a rights-bearing indigenous people in this country so it’s a really exciting time for that,” said Pruden, noting two of her colleagues are also running for provincial leadership positions. “I really want to be a part of helping that change happen.”
In April, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed Metis and non-status Indians are “Indians” within the meaning of Canada’s 1867 Constitution. The ruling, which ends a case that’s been before the courts since 1999, extends the federal government’s responsibilities to approximately 200,000 Metis and 400,000 non-status aboriginal people who aren’t affiliated with specific reserves. The ruling, however, was not a direct order to provide certain programs and benefits to Metis and non-status Indians.
The Metis Provincial Council of B.C. was first incorporated in October 1996, but later ratified the Metis National British Columbia (MNBC) constitution in 2003. Recognized by the provincial and federal governments as the official governing organization in the province, the MNBC represents 36 Metis chartered communities across the province, which has more than 14,000 provincially registered Metis citizens and nearly 70,000 self-identified Metis people.