President's Message - December 13, 2022

December 13, 2022

This is my last message to Citizens before we enter the full swing of the holiday season. I hope that everyone has what they need, and that everyone has a place at the table for the feasting, fun, and laughter.

Growing up, I can clearly remember the holidays and the wonder and joy we all felt. My mother did not have a lot of money, but she always made sure each of us got something for Christmas, and there was always enough food for all, including the people who would drop by to say Merry Christmas and visit for a while.

In those days, whenever someone came into a Red River Métis house during the holidays, there was always food. The minute you sat down at the table, food was put in front of you. It didn't matter if you'd just come from supper at home or from visiting another house where you'd been fed - if you were visiting, you were going to eat. It was a sign of caring and abundance, even if the houses you were visiting didn't have a lot of money. Families would have food made in large enough quantities so that there was always enough, no matter how many people came to visit.

I know many Citizens share similar memories about visiting during the holidays. In a year where we are seeing more and more people struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, it's a very good time to revive or continue this tradition. In the days of the Red River Settlement, the Red River Métis were known for their hospitality, and willingness to share with everyone, including friends, visitors, and newcomers. Of course, with strongminded Métis women like Annie McDermot Bannatyne - who horsewhipped an Easterner for saying bad things about Red River Métis hostesses - it was probably very smart for visitors to accept the generosity of the house.

We all know that Christmas can be a challenging time for many people, including Elders and vulnerable community members. I encourage Citizens who are hosting gatherings in their homes to think about the people around you who might be at risk of being alone during the holidays. Sometimes, small things like hearing from a friend can make all the difference for these individuals.

For those who find this time of year difficult, either because of loneliness or the loss of a loved one over the last year, know that you are in my prayers. Too often, when we are sad, we forget that there are people in our families and our communities who care about us. As much as I encourage all Citizens to reach out to Elders and vulnerable community members to make sure they get a plate of food and some company, I urge those who are worried they might be alone to pick up the phone and reach out to those around you - you may be surprised by the warm welcome you receive.

Red River Métis traditions that emphasize sharing and supporting others are truly one of the greatest parts of our legacy, and it's important that we preserve them and keep our culture alive.

For Elders, students, and hardworking families who have an abundance of love, but have struggled with the rising cost of living, your Red River Métis Government is so proud to provide you with food vouchers that will ensure a festive feast this holiday season. Elders will have the resources be able to make those special dishes that make Christmas taste and feel like home. Families will be able to put a hearty meal in front of their children and guests, while students coming home for the holidays can surprise their parents with a contribution to supper. On behalf of Cabinet and staff at the MMF, we sincerely hope that every Citizen gets to enjoy the holidays and feel the spirit of Christmas in their hearts.

As you know, your Red River Métis Government has a longstanding relationship with the Christmas Cheer Board, and we are always proud to contribute to their efforts in any way we can. The $50,000 they received from the MMF this year is the largest public donation made to the Christmas Cheer Board. Cheer Board Executive Director Shawna Bell told me that our donation on behalf of our Citizens makes sure that the charity will not need to turn any families away. I hope it fills you with pride knowing that it is your government and your Nation ensuring that no child goes without a Christmas this year.

Sometimes, it's the simplest things that make Christmas feel special, and they don't cost much at all. That's why I hope all Citizens get a chance to drive past the corner of Portage and Main at some point during the holiday season. With the Christmas lights on full display on the exterior of our Heritage Centre, there's no way you can help but have a smile on your face when you see it. It is truly a beacon of joy for the holidays, as well as a reminder that the Red River Métis are still here in the heart of our Homeland, and we continue to grow our prosperity and strength every year.

I send my well wishes to Citizens who are honouring our traditions by harvesting from our Homeland to feed family and community. Stay safe and remember - your Red River Métis Government has your back.

Until we meet again, I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve. I also wish a safe and merry Christmas to all Citizens, and hope that the season gives you comfort and peace, along with joy and time with loved ones.

 


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