President's Message - April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020

Your Metis Government continues to work hard every day to strategize how to best serve our Citizens. Many Metis Citizens have taken time to thank the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) for the hampers that have been handed out across the province. We receive cards every day, and I am so proud to hear the positive reinforcement, which I can then pass along to our hardworking staff.

That is the way our culture has always been, to share and lend a helping hand. I am thankful to those who are appreciative of the hard work and care that is put into each hamper, and workers who are risking their lives to ensure vulnerable Metis Citizens have the supplies that they need. Your Metis Government has delivered over 2,000 hampers across Manitoba. And we're going to keep ramping up our efforts to serve you.

The Education sector has been working diligently to see how we can help students continue to learn while they are at home. As we all know, the province has announced that K-12 schools are closed indefinitely, and students are expected to learn from home. Because this is a hard time for parents and guardians who are expected to work as well as take care of their children, we want to help take some of the pressure off.

The Louis Riel Institute just announced a new early learning program, Red River Cart Adventures, which debuted on April 28. The 30-minute lessons will include a story, an activity, and a Michif word or phrase of the day, which will be used in a song. Please visit the MMF website, mmf.mb.ca, on Tuesdays at 10 am. These videos will stay online throughout the week. Also, make sure to register in order to find out what supplies are needed to participate.

It appears that Manitobans' efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 is working. Over the last few weeks, the number of new cases each day has plateaued, and the number of recoveries now outnumbers active cases. Our efforts to stay inside, wash our hands, wear masks, and sanitize our spaces to flatten the curve have paid off.

However, I want to caution Premier Brian Pallister on some of his recent comments. He stated that he is aiming for Manitoba to be the first province to reopen the economy. While we cannot wait until our businesses reopen and continue to fuel the economy so that workers can pay their bills and businesses can pay their rent, we need to be cautious. We would need to do this in stages and be very careful not to ruin all our hard work and our sacrifices.

While the number of cases is low while we are in isolation, we don't want to assume that these numbers won't rise once we all start leaving our homes. We cannot forget what we have gone through. The way we communicate, work, and obtain food has changed. Our entire lifestyles have changed. In this province, tens of thousands have lost their jobs, and several have died.

This is not a race against other provinces. This is a group effort throughout the world to reduce the amount of deaths as much as possible, and to keep the stress off the health care system. Lives are at stake. Businesses are hurting. That is why the MMF is doing everything we can to provide supplemental resources to these businesses to keep their doors open and help them pay their bills.

I want to bring your attention to our new website for veterans affairs. I urge you all to check out the work we have done at metisveterans.ca. We've created a video that highlights the Metis Nation's fight for justice for our WWII Metis veterans who sacrificed so much for this country. We have been waiting for 75 years for our veterans to be treated fairly.

When young Metis men and women ventured off to fight for a country that systematically discriminated against them, they were promised an economic head start upon their return. Some didn't make it home. The ones who came home were told, "There's nothing here for you. Go back to your traplines, your fishing, go back where you came from." It was such an insult to those who risked their lives for their country.

After 20 years of working for justice, we got an apology from Canada. Last year, Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay apologized to Metis veterans on behalf of the Prime Minister for the prejudice they experienced. Canada and the Métis National Council came to a $30-million agreement to honour WWII Metis veterans.

With the Metis Veterans Legacy Program, we have been able to hand out a $20,000 cheque to 20 Metis veterans so far. We are still searching diligently for Metis veterans so we can give them their long overdue compensation. I plead with you, if you know of any Metis veterans out there, please call us at 613-232-3216, ext. 532, or email veteran.info@metisnation.ca.

Our veterans today are thankful for what we were able to achieve. We are also offering compensation for spouses of WWII Metis veterans who passed away after January 1, 2016. If the spouse is not alive, the money will be divided equally between the children.

On behalf of the Metis Nation, I express our condolences to the families affected by the horrific mass shooting in Nova Scotia earlier this month, and the innocent people who lost their lives in this senseless attack. Their legacy of innocence will live on.

My deepest sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one during this pandemic. Experiencing loss is never easy, but having to postpone a funeral due to social isolation practices, and only being able to mourn with those in your household, is very upsetting. I am thinking of everyone who is isolated in their homes and away from their family and friends, those who are waiting on medical appointments that have been postponed, and those who are postponing weddings and other festivities, as celebration is important as well. Our Metis Nation will get through this.

 


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