President's Message - August 18, 2021

August 18, 2021

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in individuals and organizations calling themselves Métis and attempting to use our name, symbols, history, and rights for their own benefit. Some of these attempts are a result of the recent successes of your Métis Government and the Métis Nation. People who are not Métis want to ride on the coattails of our success by pretending they are one of us. This is a blatant example of identity theft.

You might have noticed that your Métis Government has started using the phrase Red River Métis in places where in the past you would have seen us use Manitoba Métis or Métis Nation. The Red River Métis is the historic Métis Nation. We were the people of 1816 and the Victory of Frog Plain. We were the people of the Red River Resistance in 1870. We are the People of the Red River Jig; the Michif language; the flower beadwork; and the Métis Nation flag. We are Louis Riel's People.

We are not new. We have always been the Red River Métis. The Red River Métis is the origin, root, and core of the historic Métis Nation. The Red River Métis is Canada's negotiating partner in Confederation and the Founder of Manitoba.

After the creation of Manitoba, recognizing and honouring our role in founding the province, Louis Riel and others referred to us as the Manitoba Métis. We were named after this great accomplishment by our Ancestors. We were named after the province we created.

What is important to remember is that we are the Red River Métis, the historic Métis Nation, and the Manitoba Métis. These names are synonymous and refer to the same Indigenous People. Different names but the same People. And the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is our Government.

Words have weight. We need to be crystal clear on who we are. No one but ourselves can or should tell us who our Citizens are - not any other level of government - and not those who are greedy for power and don't care that the cost is sacrificing our people's identity by allowing waves of outsiders to have a say on our Nation's affairs. Certainly not the people pretending to become us by finding an Indigenous ancestor or two and proclaiming themselves to be Métis.

We know there are legitimate heirs of our Red River Métis Ancestors out there who do not know who they are. Make no mistake, these are our people. They are people who have had their history and identity taken away from them, either because they were part of the Sixties Scoop, the residential and day schools, or are descended from survivors. Or they're from the families who lost their family history to protect themselves from racism, oppression, and violence. We will always welcome these people. We should guide them and let them know they will always have a place among us.

But these people who live out east who have no connection with our Homeland, Ancestors, or experiences? These are not our people. They are not Red River Métis. When we use the birthplace of our Nation and the heart of our Homeland in our name as we do - such as the Red River Métis - we tell everyone who we are in ways that cannot be duplicated or stolen.

So, while we are still the one and only Métis Nation, we will be going back to our roots - back to our origins - and refer to ourselves as the Red River Métis. We have a proud history of struggles on the battlefield, and in the courts, and we will stand ready to defend the Métis Nation, born in the Red River and extending throughout our western Homeland.

Not since the days of Louis Riel have we had so much to lose, with so many wanting to take what we have. Make no mistake, friends, we have a fight on our hands, and it's no different from the fight we had at Frog Plain, at Upper Fort Garry, or at Batoche. There are people from the East who are coming to take what we have, and once again it's up to us to decide whether or not they succeed.

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) themselves say that fewer than 23 per cent of their Citizens have connections to Western Canada. We know that Mattawa, Simcoe, Killarney, and other communities east of Fort Frances have people registered who are not us, but what is more troubling to me is how MNO's leadership is willing to share this information widely without any knowledge of the harm they are causing.

The Métis Nation has spoken loud and clear about action required to defend the way of life we know, love, and thus will protect. The MMF is the wall, the old guard, and is able and ready to stand strong through another moment in history. I know you are ready to stand together in defence of our Nation. It's going to take all of us, working together and playing the same tune, to protect our culture and our traditions. Working together, uniting against common enemies, sharing what we have, and celebrating each other's successes are the things that made us a Nation.

Thanks to the Manitoba Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement we signed with Canada at Upper Fort Garry on July 6, 2021, no one can take away our ability to protect and represent the claims, rights, and interests of the Red River Métis. The agreement provides immediate recognition of your Métis Government as the democratically elected representative for the Métis who trace their ancestry back to the Red River, beyond borders, no matter where they live in the world.

The MMF has experienced a sharp increase in applications for Citizenship from Red River Métis in other provinces and beyond. It is their right to return home.

Until we can be together again, I encourage everyone to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines. I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who are grieving from loss.

 


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