MMF outraged by removal of educational signage in Ottawa airport

December 5, 2023

Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - Today, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, is fighting back against a unilateral decision made to remove educational signage that has been on display for over a year at an Ottawa airport.

The MMF was informed on Friday, December 1, 2023, that the signage depicting the MMF logo and website address, along with the words "National Government of the Red River Métis" in both official languages, was removed from circulation within the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. The MMF was informed of the removal the very same day the signage was removed. No reason was provided for the removal, nor was the MMF told about any complaints or concerns with the signage. The cost of the signage was paid for in full, and scheduled to remain until at least June of 2024.

"We are deeply offended and outraged by the decision to remove a symbol of our people's identity from the international airport located within the capital of Canada," said David Chartrand, President of the MMF. "We - the Red River Métis - are a distinct Indigenous collective, Canada's Negotiating Partner in Confederation and the Founders of Manitoba, under the leadership of Louis Riel. And this is how we are treated in Canada's capital city? It sends a clear message that we are not welcome in Ottawa, which is exactly how Riel was treated. In spite of being elected to Parliament three times, he was never allowed to take his seat. It appears very little has changed in over 150 years."

The decision to remove the signage was made by either Astral Media, which is owned by Bell Media, which is in turn owned by Bell Canada Enterprises, or by the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority, which is controlled by the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

"We are taking this unilateral action very seriously," said Rahool Agarwal, a partner at the law firm Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP and the MMF's legal counsel on the matter. "We intend to take all legal measures - up to and including a lawsuit against Astral Media and the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority - to determine who was responsible for this decision and to protect our client's rights to celebrate their heritage and their government. It is very concerning that this decision was made without any notice, justification or explanation, and with no apparent regard for the MMF's rights and entitlements to free expression and to access all forms of media without discrimination, as per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."

"I have to wonder if they would have acted the same way if it was an advertisement for a provincial government, or a private company like a bank," said President Chartrand. "They removed an advertisement that seeks to educate people about the government of the Red River Métis, and to inspire our Citizens living beyond Manitoba's borders or travelling to the capital, to take pride in their identity and the growing strength of their government. In the era of truth and reconciliation, on the eve of Louis Riel finally being recognized as Manitoba's first Premier, and we're experiencing what can only be a clear act against us. It seems people in Ottawa have forgotten that the Red River Métis have spent generations fighting for our rights. We won't quit now, and we simply will not let this insult to our national pride go unanswered."

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For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation
204-801-7710
Kat.Patenaude@mmf.mb.ca

Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is the democratically elected National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis. The Red River Métis are a distinct Indigenous Nation and People and Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

 


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