President's Message - April 14, 2021

April 14, 2021

In our Nation, we have always worked collectively to protect our Elders and connect our Youth with our culture and identity. Our Youth have always been welcomed within the community and allowed to listen in and ask questions as early as they could sit still. This way, they are taught our culture, morals, and ways, first by their parents and older siblings, then by aunts, uncles, and older cousins, and finally by Elders and other knowledge keepers. This ensures that our Youth learn our values and traditions from Elders and gain respect and appreciation for their wisdom. In this way, our community circle is kept whole, with Elders teaching our Youth and Youth respecting and protecting our Elders.

COVID-19 has given us many opportunities to appreciate that this community circle is still thriving, even while we must remain apart. Your Métis Government has worked hard to help support the community circle, through delivering hampers to Elders, conducting wellness checks, and sharing harvested meat and fish. Youth in post-secondary school have been rewarded for their hard work protecting Elders and staying safe through $1,500 in COVID-19 relief funding on top of the $5,000 they receive annually for their education.

You may have also heard that the Minister of Sports and Youth, Richard Genaille, and I announced a $1-million fund at our recent Annual General Assembly. Also supported by Minister John Fleury, the fund will promote Youth athletic development and give them a structured pathway to help them achieve their highest level of performance.

I want to share with you a bit more about what this means for the community.

After the pandemic: Why sports matter

While our Citizens have been showing their heart and resilience by maintaining social distance, there can be no question we, like other communities, are hungry for the chance to be together in person. As Métis, our need to connect with our community runs deep in our bones. It's part of who we are as a Nation.

It probably seems like it is a long way off, but I know there will come a time when we can start getting together again, visiting with each other and having events in our communities. Once it is safe again, your Métis Government will be ready to support the reintroduction of Youth sports in our communities.

But how do sports help? It's simple - watching our children play sports on local fields and diamonds, in ice rinks or gymnasiums, gives us all the chance to gather, connect with each other, and share our pride in the accomplishments of our Youth.

Our vision is to bring that sense of pride back to all our communities, be they urban, rural, or remote. This means identifying and providing professional and structured support to talented Métis players in hockey, baseball, softball, soccer, golf, curling, and beyond.

Even though we only announced this program recently, we have received numerous calls to find out more about funding or to partner with us on developing or enhancing existing programming. I know the team here is excited to keep building this out, helping communities gather again at sports facilities and supporting our Youth as they achieve their sports dreams.

It truly will be a great day when we can drive into any region, visit any sports complex in the province, and know that our Youth are actively participating and reaching their full athletic potential in everyone. I look forward to seeing more Métis faces in professional sports. Faces like curler Kerri Einarson, who we were proud to sponsor on her road to victory in the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and the Mixed Doubles Nationals (where even Brad Gushue wore our brand).

I'd like to thank Minister John Fleury, Minister Richard Genaille, directors Tracey Como and Kerry Smith and their hard-working team for getting this initiative underway.

Speaking of busy members of your Métis Government Cabinet, I'd like to congratulate Minister Andrew Carrier for his appointment to the French Language portfolio, along with his other responsibilities as Vice-President of the Winnipeg Region and Minister of Michif Language, Residential Schools, Riel House, Pemmican Publications, and the Metis Community Liaison Department. The French language has deep, far-reaching roots within the Métis Nation. It was the Métis provisional government of 1870 who worked to enshrine the language and protect it in the Manitoba Act.

Combined with the Michif Language portfolio, I'm confident Minister Carrier will deliver on a vision that incorporates our Nation's French and multilingual perspectives and protects Michif, our own critically endangered language.

I'm also pleased to share that Associate Minister Dave Beaudin is now appointed Minister of Agriculture. The Métis have a long history of relying on the land to feed our families and build the foundations of our economy. Caring for this land is in our blood. That's why one of Minister Beaudin's first tasks is to connect with Métis ranchers and farmers whose livelihood has been affected by changes in legislation around the leasing of Crown Land. I know Minister Beaudin's energy and enthusiasm will help drive more positive outcomes for our Métis ranchers and farmers. More information to come on this important portfolio.

As the commercial fishing season wraps up, I want to extend an invitation to all our Métis fishers to keep connected with us about how the season went. We know that the pandemic has significantly impacted your season, due to restaurant closures and less demand for your Harvest. Active commercial fishers are eligible for programs that can help. The first is the Commercial Fisher Net Program, which helps reduce operating costs during these challenging times. To access this program, contact Jenny Ruml at 204-586-8474 ext. 269.

The other program for active commercial fishers is the MMF COVID-19 Business Support Program, which offers assistance to keep our Métis entrepreneurs in business, including our commercial fishers. Fishers can contact the Louis Riel Capital Corporation at 1-800-387-6004 for more information.

Until we can be together again, I encourage everyone to stay safe at home. I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve.


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