President's Message - August 21, 2019

August 21, 2019

Not being away from my home province when I can help it, the province I love and have been devoted to and worked in for my entire life, I have been able to attend some pretty important events in the last few weeks.

I was honoured to be part of the Northwest Metis Council meeting in Dauphin at the beginning of August. There's nothing I like better than connecting with members of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) on a grassroots level, and hearing reports from the Locals. These folk demonstrate a dedication and commitment to the people of Manitoba that fills me with admiration, and in all honesty, the current premier of Manitoba could take a page from their book. The meeting was a mingling of Métis people from all walks of life, from toddlers to the vibrant Youth Advisory Committee, all the way up to our wise and generous Elders. Each and every person there was invested in the future of our Métis Nation. I talked to so many people in Dauphin, I listened carefully, and these are the things they want to talk about: Health, Seniors, Youth, Harvesting, the Economy, and our precious lakes that are in so much trouble. Invasive species such as zebra mussels, harmful algae blooms that are increasing in size and frequency, and the vital need to protect the sustainability of fishing, are on everyone's minds. And within all that talking, reporting and visiting, there were two words everyone kept coming back to: Métis Vote.

The concept of Métis Vote has been moving like wildfire. Why is that? It's because Métis people know how we pay taxes and get nothing back for it. It's because Métis people know how the premier never met one single commitment he made to us in his election promises back in 2016. It's because Métis people know how Pallister threw away the Turning the Page agreement and blamed the Métis when his Hydro board handed him a mass resignation - and that takes a high level of denial to blame the Métis and not take a look inward when an accomplished board of citizens wants nothing to do with you. It amounts to this: Pallister doesn't recognize the Métis Nation as a constitutionally enshrined, rights-bearing people - or at least he doesn't since he got elected. But guess what? We're here. And if he knew his Métis history, he'd know - we aren't going away.

The Métis people are talking about Métis Vote because we know that votes will talk.

If you know me, you know I like to talk, to share our Métis opinions. Just a few days after the Council meeting, I was back in Winnipeg and on the radio with Global News talking about Decision 2019. Lots of comments were coming in on Twitter during my interview. I am heartened to know how many people from all over Manitoba are as concerned about the future of Manitoba as I am. I said on that show that soon, fighting for our water is going to be the biggest, most important fight in the world.

Did you try to get to Grand Beach this summer but were yet again met with algae? We all know our lakes are suffering now. The very future of fishing is at risk, and these are issues that are a matter of life and death. These are the precise issues that the Métis people must be consulted about and can assist with. No one knows the waters better than the people who work on the waters, the Métis Harvesters. The Manitoba government has a legal duty to consult with the Métis in a meaningful way with decisions that may infringe upon or adversely affect our Constitutional rights. The Province is breaching the constitution by ignoring us, they are damaging our lakes, they are risking our entire province.

If water is our big fight, we have another big fight happening too.

That fight is at the polls.

I offer my prayers for our friends, family members, and veterans who have passed on and my condolences to those who have lost a loved one. My hopes are with those who are sick or shut in and I offer my best wishes to all.

Meeqwetch,

 


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