President's Message - December 18, 2019

December 18, 2019

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you share a restful and joyous holiday season with family, friends and community. As you have likely gathered from my messages throughout 2019, it has been a very busy time for the Metis Nation, as we approach the end of this calendar year.

I too look forward to taking the time to share this holiday with family and loved ones. Be assured your Métis Government is working very hard to ensure that 2020 brings new opportunities and resources to support all Métis Citizens. We have accomplished much, but so much is on the horizon, especially as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of founding this province we call home.

Or course much of that work is dependent on our relationship with the Trudeau Government. Thankfully the people of Canada gave reconciliation and relationship building with Indigenous people another mandate.

We got a glimpse of what they may look like with choices for cabinet, along with the contents of the latest federal Throne Speech, delivered by Governor General Julie Payette earlier this month.

On the cabinet front, I was so proud to see Manitoba Métis Citizen and Member of Parliament for St Boniface-St Vital, Dan Vandal appointed to the portfolio of Minister of Northern Affairs. To have member of our Nation sitting at the Cabinet table is a momentous occasion.

I was also pleased to see our friend Carolyn Bennett remain in the role of Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and to see the appointment of Marc Miller as Minister of Indigenous Services. I know that we will have extensive dialogue with these Ministers and their departments as we strive towards advancing the lives of the Citizens I represent.

Much like his choice of cabinet, the latest throne speech also shows that Prime Minister Trudeau is committed to unity and bringing people in this country together. I know the Metis Nation shares that commitment and we look forward to doing our part to continue creating a prosperous and unified Canada for all Citizens. Louis Riel was a man of unity and nation building. I am proud to carry on that legacy as work towards collective prosperity across Canada.

I was also particularly pleased to see the Federal Government reveal that it plans to take action to co-develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in the first year of this new mandate. UNDRIP recognizes the right of Indigenous Peoples to legal equality, self-determination, the preservation of their languages and control of their traditional lands, among other rights. That is something I work towards every day for the Metis.

I've made it no secret, my admiration and gratitude for Justin Trudeau when it comes to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and in particular the Metis. Thanks to respect of treaties, rights and our place in Confederation, we have made unthinkable gains for the Métis Nation in 2019. I look forward to working closely with this government and all members of Parliament. Keep in mind with this being a minority government I am including members of the opposition as well, as we all continue to work towards a better collective relationship.

Another highlight of throne speech for me is a commitment to work with Indigenous communities to close the infrastructure gap by 2030 and to take new steps to ensure the government is living up to the spirit and intent of treaties. Our track record when it comes to working government and industry speaks for itself already.

However working towards respect for treaties and agreements is a battle we wage daily especially in the province we founded! While we have a premier who has the audacity to not acknowledge our rightful place at the table, I am delighted to see a Prime Minister who understands the history of the Metis and our rights.

As we bring 2019 to a close, you need to know that we will be fully and properly commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance. In 1869-70 in the Métis courageously asserted their rights and protected their families during the turbulent events leading up to the creation of the province of Manitoba. Through a number of events and initiatives we will be telling this story throughout 2020. From newspaper campaigns to our Annual General Assembly in September, we will honour the great Métis Leader and President Louis Riel along with the Métis Provisional Government.

To that, I was very pleased to see the leader of the official opposition, Wab Kinew understand the significance of 2020 for the Metis. In case you missed it, Mr. Kinew put forward a private member's bill in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, to give the title of honorary first premier to Louis Riel. The bill also requires that Riel's contributions should be part of the province's school curriculum. The bill will likely come up for a vote in March. Let's hope all members do the right thing.

So with that in mind, I look forward to continuing the critical work of creating new opportunities for Métis families. Great things are coming for you. From post-secondary education funding to exciting new housing developments for our Metis Elders. In the 23 years that I have faithfully served as your President, I have rarely been more proud than I am today.

May you bring this good news to your own families and communities over the holidays. Please look after one another and support our Métis families and Elders who are in need throughout the season. My prayers and best wishes go to each of you for a warm and bright Christmas and a wonderful 2020. Let us never forget the true meaning of this season and why it brings us all together in peace and harmony.


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