President's Message - August 17, 2023

August 17, 2023

Building a prosperous and sustainable legacy for our Youth is a consistent theme in the conversations I have had with our Elders over many years. When you see your Red River Métis Government developing initiatives and programs to support Youth across our Homeland and Beyond Borders, it is with these conversations in mind. Your Red River Métis Government is here to support our Youth in whatever their dreams are. Whether academic, a skilled trade, athletics, or any combination of skills and pursuits - we want to see you live YOUR vision of a strong and bright future.

Nurturing a legacy for Red River Métis children has been a part of who we are since the birth of our political consciousness. When Louis Riel's provisional government developed the list of rights that would form the basis of the Manitoba Act, 1870, negotiating title to our lands on the Assiniboine and Red Rivers was a priority.

We fought to secure the 1.4 million acres of land promised to Métis children that ought to have been honoured. We have never stopped putting Red River Métis Youth at the heart of everything we fight for.

Today, there is limited physical land to be returned, negotiated, or settled with Canada, but there is the promise of financial restitution. The MMF is already investing in our Youth through funding for education, the first-time homebuyer's program, and individual sponsorship programs for sports. These legacy supports will only continue to grow and improve following successful financial land settlement negotiations with Canada.

We have also made excellent progress toward the development of camps to support our Youth as they grow into their culture and community, and as they pursue their athletic goals.

Camp for athletes

At the recent North American Indigenous Games, our Youth represented the Red River Métis Homeland and competed with the fighting spirit of our Ancestors. They brought home plenty of medals and as always, made us enormously proud.

Therefore, when our Youth ask us for more opportunities to train in the sports they love, we listen, and we act. The MMF is developing a sports and culture camp in the RM of Woodlands, in the Interlake Region, about 20 minutes southeast of St. Laurent near our newly opened Lake Manitoba Resort.

When it opens in 2025, we will bring more than 100 Red River Métis athletes together year-round for training in sports like swimming, climbing, mountain biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and others. The camp will also offer land-based education, including harvesting practices, trapping, fishing, and traditional cultural activities like learning Michif, understanding traditional medicine, sash making, fiddling, and jigging. Participants will also join sessions guided by Elders who will pass on traditional knowledge.

Currently, the camp holds nearly 30 buildings, including 12 cabins, and boasts a rope/climbing course, a gym, heated swimming pool with waterslides, and a basketball court. We will invest in and improve on this to make the camp a premier place for our Youth to hone their skills and work toward achieving their athletic goals.

Cultural camps

Another camp focusing on cultural education will be opening in the Northwest Region in 2024. Located in the Duck Mountain range, close to a 160-acre Red River Métis-owned harvesting property, the camp will offer land-based education and cultural knowledge building sessions in a beautiful and peaceful setting.

While these camps are in development, we have many that are already underway and phenomenally successful. For example, Infinity Women Secretariat has been holding a day camp, teaching leadership skills to Red River Métis girls. There are Youth camps teaching land-based knowledge, Red River Métis culture, and camps to support education around sound environmental principles.

We also have a camp happening in the Northwest Region nurturing a cultural knowledge exchange between three Indigenous Nations. Vice-President Frances Chartrand and her team have arranged an amazing opportunity for our Youth, Dene Youth from Yellowknife, and Nunatsiavut Youth, whose territory spans parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, and part of northern Quebec.

Knowledge Keepers from each community teach the Youth about the value of working together and sharing their cultures. I am pleased there are plans in place to continue this cultural exchange and build on the relationships growing between our communities. These camps create an opportunity for Youth to learn about themselves, discover new friendships, and form bonds with young people from other communities.

As our Youth grow from adolescence to adulthood and learn about themselves and their culture, and claim their place in the world, I hope they dream big and strive for success with everything they have. The job of your Red River Métis Government is to clear the path for them, step by step, as they build their lives. This is my vision - one that is shared by our Cabinet, our Local leadership, Elders, and families from across the Red River Métis Homeland and Beyond Borders. This is how we honour our Ancestors and bring them peace, secure in knowing the future they wanted for their children is being restored to their descendants.

We want our Youth to be proud of who they are. As they move through this life and go from strength to strength, we know they will never forget where they come from and who they have inherited their strength and resilience from.

Never stop believing in yourselves and believing in Red River Métis.

Until we gather, 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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