President's message - August 30, 2023

August 30, 2023

The annual Red River Métis Elder and Youth Gathering was held on August 29th and 30th in Selkirk. It's wonderful to see this tradition returning to our cultural events calendar both last year and this year, after the pandemic forced us to postpone it for several years.

This gathering was brought into creation at a time when we lost a number of Elders and Knowledge Keepers in our Nation, and we realized that we needed to do more to ensure the transmission of knowledge between generations. Building a legacy for our Elders and an inheritance for our Youth through economic development, education, housing, and child care supports are all important, but without the understanding of how it all came to be, the legacy is not complete.

For Youth who grew up in strong Red River Métis towns and villages, the information offered to them at the gathering is a good reminder and a chance to reconnect with relatives and Elders. For Youth who are growing up in urban centres or beyond our borders, it is of vital importance that we create an opportunity for them to learn our traditional ways and hear the teaching stories of our Elders. This is equally important for our Youth whose families are returning to our Nation, learning about their identity and reclaiming their place as Red River Métis.

Without this opportunity to learn - not only what Elders have to teach, but to see how Elders are treated within our community - there are very few opportunities for these Youth to practice our culture and traditional ways.

Creating opportunities to spend time in community is an important gift your Red River Métis Government can give our Youth. As they continue to chase their dreams and receive their education, keeping their connection strong with Elders and all community members is vital. It makes sure they hear the wisdom of life experience, gain the skills our Elders can teach, and learn our Nation's past. There may be nothing more critical than this transfer of knowledge, which is why our annual Elder and Youth Gathering is one of the most important things we do each year.

Learning from our Elders - everything from beading and sewing, to harvesting from the land, to canning and preserving - also gives our Youth a chance to feel the support of the Elders from our Nation.

The Elders feel the gratitude and respect of their community for their many years of hard work, keeping our culture alive and fighting for our rights at a time when there were very few resources to support them.

Our Elders not only provide us with the understanding of where we come from, they also ensure our Youth go into the world with a strong sense of their own identity and a strong sense of community connection.

Of course, we can never repay the debt we owe to our Elders, nor can we ever forget it. I have often said no one can know where they are going in the future without first understanding where they come from.

I believe it is because we still honour this important connection between Youth and Elders that we are experiencing such a strong cultural revival. There are so many Red River Métis rediscovering their identity, reconnecting with their community and coming home to their Red River Métis Government. I know our Ancestors would be proud to see how far we've come, and how many of our traditional ways are still being honoured.

With our treaty well on its way to ratification by the Canadian government, our ability to provide programs and services to Citizens, helping them gain a strong foundation for a bright future, and our Red River Métis Heritage Centre in development at the historic corner of Portage and Main, we are building strength from strength, and creating a pathway to the future that honours our Elders' sacrifices and energizes our Youth.

Helping other communities

Your Red River Métis Cabinet has been watching the wildfires happening in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia with deep concern. When we learned that there would be evacuees sent to Manitoba, we immediately reached out to the government of Manitoba to offer our assistance by way of food, lodging, and transportation to our construction camp for evacuees displaced by the wildfires. As Citizens know, the MMF's camp can accommodate at least 80 people in a safe, secure area near Treherne, Manitoba.

Offering to help those in need is also part of our proud history and heritage, as taught to us by our Elders. We have always welcomed newcomers and visitors to the heart of our Homeland, helping where we can and supporting them in times of need. The Mennonites of Manitoba have long recognized that without the Red River Métis people, their hardships would have been greater when they first came to the historic Northwest. The MMF - the National Government of the Red River Métis - remains committed to coming together to help in times of need. While current circumstances do not require our immediate support of Manitoba's efforts, we remain on standby to help, either through the province's coordinated efforts, or directly with Indigenous nations at risk of evacuation.

Until we gather, I offer my prayers to all our families, Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve.



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