President's Message - August 18, 2022

August 18, 2022

Due to the restrictions on gatherings for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to be innovative and establish new ways of connecting with our community. However, we know there are some things that are best done in person, so Citizens can connect with each other, discuss the issues that are important to our Nation, share their thoughts and ideas with elected leaders, and enjoy some good food and laughter along the way.

While we had a successful virtual Annual General Assembly in 2021 for the 2020 year, and an in-person AGA in the spring of this year for 2021, we are still catching up from restrictions on gathering sizes, which means we must come together and honour our rich democratic tradition and have full consultation with our Assembly.

With our next Assembly scheduled for October 14-16, 2022, we are beginning the important process of holding meetings in each of our regions. This is a critical step leading up to our assembly, meeting with Local and regional executives, to let them know about the business we expect to conduct at the assembly, discuss possible changes or improvements to our constitution, and hear feedback and concerns.

Our first two regional meetings were for The Pas and the Northwest. Not only is it an honour to attend these meetings, it is also part of a longstanding commitment I have made to report on our national business as well as hearing about the business being conducted in the regions and the concerns and activities of the Locals. Our community is strongest when we gather. Whether it's a cousin from down the road or a friend who travelled great distances to participate, you can see how much we enjoy connecting with each other and affirming our ties. As with all our meetings, I am so proud of how well attended these meetings were, as they show that our Locals remain engaged and committed to advancing the interests of all our Citizens.

It is only through consultation with our grassroots voices that we can arrive at our Assembly confident that Red River Métis Citizens are informed and prepared for the activity that takes place there. This speaks to the importance of our ongoing connection with our grassroots leadership - the leaders of our Locals.

It's worth remembering that there was a time when Locals were the only visible structures that showed our ongoing commitment to our democratic history and culture, before 1967 and the creation of the Manitoba Métis Federation. We were called a federation because we were a collective of Local leaders and representatives, and we were forced to incorporate in order to receive funding and begin developing a national governance structure.

In many ways, our Nation owes its strongest debt of gratitude to our matriarchs and those individuals and families who kept the flame of our existence and our nationhood alive by persisting at the Local level, during a time when no one remembered who we are, no one wanted to claim to be us, and we had very few resources for our people.

Today, our Local leaders are supported by regional leadership and our Cabinet, where we work to advance our Red River Métis national and international agenda. They remain a fundamental part of our democracy, and the value of their perspective and their work on behalf of Citizens cannot be overstated.

This underpins a message I have shared more than once over the years: Locals will always be the guides of our work. They will never lose their importance to our ways or our government, and their voices are the foundation on which we grow. As you know, we may not always agree with each other, and we may engage in vigorous debate on the subjects that matter to us. However, once a decision has been made and the Citizens have spoken, we move forward together - a united front against any who would try to destabilize us for their own gains.

I cannot stress enough the importance of these meetings and our Annual General Assemblies within our culture and our community. It is always our goal to ensure we have maximum participation and attendance, which is one of the reasons why our assemblies are the largest Indigenous gatherings in the country, with attendance as high as 3,000-plus Citizens.

As always, we will ensure that Citizens know about the Annual General Assembly in the days and weeks leading up to it. We will communicate about the assembly through billboards, social media campaigns, radio and newspaper advertisements, along with livestreaming the proceedings and sharing outcomes through a variety of mediums, from our AGA booklet to my reports on NCI's Metis Hour, my weekly radio report to Citizens. I have no doubt that our next assembly will once again show our dedication to democracy and commitment to working together to advance our interests in Canada and the world.

That is the power of democracy and the power of the Red River Métis community. We are strong, we are determined, and we have never let the flame of our existence be extinguished. The threads of our community, like our sashes, are interwoven together, and we are a force to be reckoned with.

Until we can be together again, 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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