President's Message - August 7, 2019

August 7, 2019

This has been an incredible summer for connection.

I'm still feeling the great joy of attending the Ste. Madeleine Métis Days last month, and spending time with the people there. I believe I will carry the spirit of that event with me for a very long time, because it was much, much more than a great summer party.

It wasn't just the huge turnout, the immense talent of the performers, the fresh pickerel fry, the taste of that bannock(!), the games, dancing, or the laughter of youth and Elders combined. It wasn't even the jewel on the crown of the weekend, the very special open-air service on the site of the Ste. Madeleine church, which 80 years before had been deliberately burned down by the government.

What made Ste. Madeleine Days unforgettable was the truly amazing presence of the Elders who had once been the little children of Ste. Madeleine. They were the ones who stood beside their parents, watching in terror as their homes and all their possessions were burned, and their dogs shot. How could they, or their parents, or any rational human being, understand what was happening that day? How could anyone explain why the government thought it was more important to feed cattle than to protect Métis families.

The government has immense power to affect our families, doesn't it?

The burning of Ste. Madeleine was 80 years ago. Now it is 2019. Let us ask ourselves: Is our government today any more enlightened? Here is some very recent news:

Federally, we see that $5.1 million in funding has been invested from Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada toward the creation of a Métis National Heritage Centre (MNHC). Here we see reconciliation in action, and a true recognition of the Métis as Partners in Confederation. Yes, the federal government is clearly showing their enlightenment.

So - is there enlightenment on the provincial level?

Ask the simple question: Have you seen the Métis consulted by the provincial government for their perspectives, concerns, and expertise regarding matters that directly affect our land, our health care, housing, waters and harvesting rights? Time and again, the answer, sadly, is "No". Despite their Duty to Consult, there is no accountability. Perhaps if the Province showed some respect by attending the federal announcement about the MNHC, more could have been learned about the Métis and our place in confederation. But little to no interest in learning, or even acknowledging our presence is being exhibited by the current provincial government. And when a government will not acknowledge you, you are at dire risk. And once again, the Métis are on the front lines.

So will we be forced to stand by and watch everything we've built get burned to the ground?

No, my friends. We will never let that happen again.

As well we know, the Pallister government has called for an election one year ahead of schedule. I imagine the premier believes that he is playing a clever strategy by doing this, making the other parties struggle to catch up in election preparedness. But I don't happen to believe that politics are games to be played. Government is about the day-to-day success of our families. That is not a game.

On September 10th, 2019, let us show all Manitobans what happens when our voices are united. "Métis Vote" is a grassroots movement among our Citizens.

As you enjoy the rest of your summer, talk to your friends, and tell your neighbours. "Métis Vote" is up to us. Make your plans to give our Elders a ride to the polling station, and make sure you get to that ballot box.

I will see you there.

I send my thoughts and prayers to those who are shut in, sick or caused to grieve. There is hope and comfort to be found in our strong Métis community. Remember our many blessings. Take good care and enjoy the rest of the beautiful summer months.



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