President's Message - August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020

I hope everyone has been enjoying this beautiful summer that we are experiencing this year. It is hard to believe that we are already nearing the month of September, and we all know what comes after that: cold weather and snow. Be sure to take some time out of your life in the coming weeks to sit outside and enjoy the weather with your loved ones before it leaves us for winter.

On Monday, August 17, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) celebrated the Grand Opening of the Frank Bruce Métis Seniors Complex in the historic Métis community of St. Laurent. The project was named after Frank Bruce, a proud Métis Nation Citizen, a World War II Veteran, and a prominent member of the Métis village of St. Laurent. The Métis Nation is forever indebted to all veterans, especially Métis Veterans. It is the bravery exemplified by Métis Citizens like Mr. Bruce that led to our people returning from combat with more respect from fellow brothers-in-arms.

Construction commenced July 2019 and was completed August 1, 2020. Government-to-Government relations with Canada and the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent have contributed to the success of these affordable, safe, and fully accessible housing units for seniors in Manitoba. In 2018, the MMF and Canada entered into the Métis Nation Housing Sub-Accord, which provides millions of dollars every year for the MMF to assist us in closing the 50 per cent housing gap that exists between the Métis Nation and non-Indigenous Canadians. The Frank Bruce Métis Seniors Complex is our first project under the Canada-Métis Nation Housing Sub-Accord.

The MMF's Housing strategy is guided by the Citizens who informed us of the demand and importance of housing for our Elders and seniors. This complex has nine units, eight of which are wood-frame and one is steel-frame. Steel-framed housing is a new and eco-friendly housing technology. These housing units are designed to be age-friendly and accessible to those who have trouble with mobility. The house is designed to be wheelchair friendly with many accessibility features. There is also a communal building that serves as a gathering space for Elders and residents of St. Laurent.

To ensure these units were not yet another missed opportunity for our seniors to find affordable and adequate living situations, the rent for our tenants will be subsidized by the MMF. We wanted to ensure that there were no barriers for our seniors to enter these units. One of the couples that moved into a unit said that these units gave them the opportunity to move out of their children's house and get a place that is their own. Another couple said that these projects gave them the opportunity to affordably retire in their hometown. This project is a prime example of what your Manitoba Métis Government is all about - listening to the needs of our Métis Nation Citizens and addressing them.

Not only does it have societal benefits to the 17 Citizens who live in these units; there is also economic spinoffs for the Manitoba economy. Many focus on the primary economic benefactors of construction projects, the labourers and contractors, but tens of thousands of dollars also have to be spent on other expenses such as bills, maintenance, and furnishing the units. This multimillion-dollar construction project provided a large economic stimulus in a vibrant Métis village like St. Laurent in a time where COVID is negatively affecting large portions of the economy.

The MMF also ensured that this development had room for expansion in the future. We ensured that the groundwork is laid for another large investment in the construction of further units on the same lot. Our team in Housing has done a great job planning this project and the many others that are in the works. We aim to erect projects to address the needs of the Manitoba Métis in every MMF Region.

In addition to building affordable housing for families and seniors, we are also building childcare centres and local offices. Over the coming months we are continuing to search for opportunities to expand the reach of our Early Learning Child Care services as well as our Governance. We want to ensure that as many Métis Nation Citizens in Manitoba have access to affordable and reliable services from your Métis Government as possible.

I want to remind everyone that we have our "Journey in the Heart of the Homeland Ideas Contest" to help design what the inside of the Métis Nation Heritage Centre may look like. This project is nearly two decades in the making and is a major milestone for the Métis Nation. Please submit your design ideas and check out the competition rules at journeyintheheartofthehomeland.com or by clicking the link on our website at mmf.mb.ca.

As the Harvesting season continues, we want to remind all Métis Citizens to respect our Manitoba Métis harvesting laws, and be safe as we feed our families using our inherent right to harvest.

I hope everyone continues to practice social distancing and washes their hands. We are beginning to experience the effects of what many are calling the "second wave" of COVID-19, and though the MMF is prepared to assist Manitobans through this wave as we did the last, we all need to be diligent. Together we will make it through this. Remember: your Métis Government always has your back!

Meeqwetch,

 


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