MMF President calls for COVID-19 Vaccine Set-Aside for Manitoba Métis

December 7, 2020

The Manitoba Metis Federation's (MMF) President, David Chartrand, called upon Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller on Thursday to set aside COVID-19 vaccines for the Manitoba Métis Community once they become available, citing the high levels of chronic illnesses and increasing age in the Métis population in Manitoba.

The call for the set-aside stems from concerns with the health care system in Manitoba to address the deep-seated health conditions of Manitoba's Métis Community and the health care system's failure to incorporate Métis participation in the system itself.

"In our meeting, Minister Miller indicated that Canada's focused on a strategy to ensure that First Nations and Inuit get a prioritized distribution of COVID-19," stated President Chartrand. "We commend Minister Miller for establishing a First Nation and Inuit strategy, which will undoubtably save lives. We are now seeking a Métis-specific strategy for the Manitoba Métis."

This meeting with Canada comes on the heels of troubling comments made by Premier Pallister in a recent press conference. During this press conference, Pallister expressed his concern over Canada's First Nation-focused approach in Manitoba, and publicly called for extra vaccines for non-Indigenous Manitobans to take into account Manitoba's sizeable Indigenous population.

Pallister stated that Indigenous health is the federal government's concern, and that non-Indigenous people should not suffer as a result of a First Nations-centric approach. However, since Canada's plan to date is only considering the needs of First Nations, the MMF is left apprehensive that its Citizens are at risk of being abandoned by both levels of government. Simply put, Pallister's focus is on non-Indigenous people while the federal government's focus is on First Nations. The Manitoba Métis, as Indigenous but not First Nations, will fall between the cracks.

"The Manitoba Métis are at risk of getting caught in a political crossfire and becoming collateral damage if action is not taken by the Canadian or Manitoba government to protect our Métis population - which is very susceptible to this deadly virus," remarked President Chartrand. "The Manitoba Métis are more prone to chronic illness than the average Canadian, have an aging population, and the provincial government has turned a blind eye to our health concerns with the Premier cancelling the only health program we had upon getting elected."

"With Canada currently focusing their efforts on the First Nations, and Pallister clearly focusing on racial division, fearmongering, and proclaiming support for the non-Indigenous population, the Métis - the Founders of this beautiful province 150 years ago - are at risk of being forgotten," added President Chartrand. "This Premier has shown time and time again that we cannot rely on him to act in the interest of the Métis, despite being hardworking taxpayers. We have seen this troubling tactic before; Pallister will say what he needs to in front of the camera, but behind closed doors his Trumpian-style of politics rears its ugly head."

"In reality, we know that we are in dire need of immediate action from Ottawa to protect the well-being of the Manitoba Métis," commented President Chartrand. "It is unfortunate that we find ourselves, as Manitobans, fighting for the lifeboats that the Premier described, instead of him doing his job to construct a ship that we can all safely board and protect our families and communities."

"If the Premier is going to give out the lifeboats, we need to build our own raft, as we know that he will not share his boats with the Métis," concluded President Chartrand.


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