Letter to Special Rapporteur Tzay

March 15, 2023

Dear Special Rapporteur Tzay,

It is my pleasure to meet with you and begin the important discussion on Indigenous rights in Canada and across the globe. The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, has been advancing the rights of our Nation for many decades, creating new pathways for other Indigenous Peoples in Canada as they step toward the self-determination recognized in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Moreover, like your work, our efforts have never been solely for our own people, or even for the Indigenous Peoples in Canada. We understand that our kinship ties extend across all colonial-made boundaries, and we embrace our Indigenous sisters and brothers across the globe. If there is one common, shared belief across all Indigenous Nations I have had the pleasure to work with, it is that success, prosperity and opportunity must be shared in order to be fully realized.

You may be aware of our history and culture, so I wanted to ensure you are equipped with that information. Please accept this package as a gesture of friendship and solidarity, with an eye to long-term collaboration. Know that you will always have willing and able partners in the Red River Métis.

Yours for Indigenous self-determination,

Ambassador Clément Chartier
Manitoba Métis Federation

The Red River Métis - who we are

The Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, are a distinct Indigenous People, with our own collective identity, language, culture, way of life and government, located in Winnipeg, the heart of the Homeland. Our Homeland includes the Great Plains in what is now Western Canada, and the northern United States of America.

The Manitoba Métis Federation is the democratically-elected government of the Red River Métis - Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

Our distinct Red River Métis cultural heritage is well known to Canadians: The Red River Jig; the Red River Cart, the poems, songs and music of our artists, our language Michif and our Red River Beadwork, so renowned that we were given the name "the Flower Beadwork People" by our Cree relatives. Our political history includes our national infinity flag and the struggles of our Ancestors as they fought for our rights in battle and in the courts.

Through what is called the Red River Resistance - a major event in Canadian history - the Red River Métis formed a democratically-elected government to prevent Canada from taking control of the Red River Settlement and the rest of the Homeland, without consultation with the Red River Métis, who were the majority population.

In 1870, we successfully negotiated our entry in the Canada's confederation and became known as the Manitoba Métis, after the newly created province. We remain the only Indigenous people to bring a province into Confederation.

At times called half-breeds, mixed blood, country born, Bois-Brûlés, Lii Michif and eventually Otipemisiwak - the people who own themselves - we are the Red River Métis.

Since long before Canada became a country, the Red River Métis have had our own laws and democratic system of government. Our ancestral traditions served us well when others have challenged our Homeland, our Nation, our livelihood, or our family. Our roots gave us strength and continue to do so today.

About the Manitoba Métis Federation: National Government of the Red River Métis

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) continues the legacy of our Ancestors as the National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis. Using Manitoba in our name reflects the role of the Red River Métis as Canada's Negotiating Partner in Confederation and the Founder of Manitoba.

The MMF was established in 1967 to provide democratic, responsible, and accountable governance on behalf of Red River Métis using the constitutional authorities delegated by our Citizens. At that time, the MMF incorporated as a requirement imposed on us by Canada and others in order to apply for program funding, open bank accounts, and enter into agreements. The Red River Métis are the Indigenous collective - made up of its Citizens and individuals entitled to be Citizens - located within what is now Manitoba as well as elsewhere inside and outside of Canada.

Since signing the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement in July of 2021 the MMF has been affirmed to represent the rights, claims, and interests of the Red River Métis. We have never been defined by others.

Part of the legacy of colonialism are the boundaries that cut up our traditional territory, isolated our People, and fractured our governance. These boundaries include the provincial borders. These borders are artificial and not of our choosing. Since 2014 the MMF has taken steps to unite the Red River Métis and bring everyone home.

Since our ethnogenesis as a People - since the very beginning of our existence - we have had the three main governance institutions of President, Council (also called Cabinet), and Assembly. From the time of the buffalo hunt, these institutions have provided the structure for our collective and democratic decision-making.

These three institutions are a hard-won legacy formed in the crucible of a unique history of cultural practices, military campaigns, and political arenas. Our governance institutions have evolved and continue to evolve. These three remain critical to our Red River Métis Government. MMF President David Chartrand with his Cabinet of twenty-two Ministers provide reports to the Annual General Assembly and seek guidance from our People. The Assembly is integral to our Métis Government as we continue to provide open, accountable, and democratic governance to our Citizens.

The MMF delivers programs and services including in the sectors of child and family services; justice; housing; youth; education; human resources; economic development; and natural resources. The MMF, along with its affiliated corporations, authorities, and agencies, has just under one thousand employees to develop and administer programs and services.

About David Chartrand

President David Chartrand has been at the forefront of Métis political leadership for over 35 years and President of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) for more than 25 years. President Chartrand is the longest serving President in the Federation's history, currently serving an unprecedented eight term.

A renowned national and international leader, speaker and published author, President Chartrand has built the most comprehensive Indigenous Government in Western Canada and has helped the Métis Nation win several critical court cases, including the 2013 Supreme Court decision on the Manitoba Métis land claim.

He was born in 1960 and raised in the Métis village of Duck Bay, Manitoba. The fourth of eight children, President Chartrand attributes his strong sense of identity and integrity to his mother Martha, who taught him that his name was the most important thing he owned, and that he must always protect it by acting with honour and respect.

Under President Chartrand's leadership, the MMF and the Red River Métis have re-emerged as economic leaders as a government and across a variety of sectors.

MMF's revenues have significantly increased to over $100 million and climbing in recent years, with capital holdings in cash, investments and real property of over $250 million. Through its economic development arm, the MMF owns and operates several companies that includes a resort and golf club, a pharmacy, procurement, construction, retail division and real estate.

When asked what his greatest accomplishment as President has been, he said: "Giving back to my people and protecting the future for our youth. Never forget where you come from."

President Chartrand has two grown children, Christopher and Sonya, and four grandchildren. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife Glorian, a Métis businesswoman, and his granddaughter Martha.


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