President's Message - February 17, 2022

February 17, 2022

Before I provide an update on your Métis government's recent initiatives and activities, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge our Nation's loss at the passing of Robert Gaudry. Robert was part of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) Cabinet for many years and fought hard on behalf of our farmers, ranchers, and fishers. Robert also advanced the idea that our Nation's economic development was critical to our long-term stability and success, and we continue to benefit from this wisdom today. On behalf of Citizens, along with the MMF's Cabinet and staff, I want to express our condolences to his family and friends and offer our prayers during this difficult time.

Even though winter is not yet done working its will on our province, you can begin to feel the sun's heat through the cold, which tells us that the season is starting to make its slow change to spring.

This is the time of year when we start to set our thinking toward the future and putting our plans into action after the cold winter months of planning.

Your Métis government has been hard at work delivering on programs and services needed by Red River Métis Citizens, and there are more activities and initiatives going on than I can possibly share in a single message.

If you're a regular listener of the Métis Hour x2 on NCI, you'll know that I always deliver a weekly report on our activities. I encourage you to tune in to the program, along with reading these regular messages, and checking out our website and social media. Together, these communications will give you an ongoing update on the progress we're making towards the goals you've told us are important to you.

For now, I want to share information about two important initiatives that we've been focusing on in recent weeks.

Planning for our Annual General Assembly

Things are looking very positive for us to be able to return to our roots and gather in person at our Annual General Assembly, scheduled for March 25, 26, and 27 at the Assiniboia Downs.

While we were able to honour the spirit of our democratic processes last year through our first virtual Annual General Assembly, we had to accept the limitations of technology and keep attendance restricted to registered delegates. During this virtual Assembly, we passed only essential motions out of respect for our Citizens and our democratic process. We did not deliberate or vote on constitutional resolutions, choosing to wait until our next full Assembly to make sure our Citizens could meaningfully discuss, debate, and provide feedback on the proposed resolutions.

While we worked hard to stay connected throughout this pandemic, there's nothing in the world that feels better than spending time together at an in-person assembly. It's a tradition that goes all the way back to the very beginning of our culture. It is close to our hearts and a powerful tribute to the people who fought for our Nation in its infancy.

Plans are well underway for this spring, and I'm looking forward to finally being able to see Citizens and friends and hear about everything they've experienced over the last few years. I hope you're all as excited as I am to get together and dance, sing, laugh, and feast, while conducting the important business of advancing our Nation.

This Assembly will give us all a chance to start looking forward again and help us all heal our hearts and strengthen our community after the isolation of the last few years.

Of course, we will continue to respect any public health guidelines that are in place at the time of our Assembly, and all in-person attendees will need to be able to show proof of full vaccination. We will also be offering the option of virtual attendance to any Citizens who cannot come to the Assembly in person.

Keep an eye on our website and social media as we start sharing more details about this great event.

Reviving the Red River Métis fur trade

In my travels, I have spoken with many individuals who either were trappers or are continuing to run traplines, keeping this traditional economy alive. Nearly everyone I spoke with has told me that it's become almost impossible to earn a sustainable living from trapping, which is a source of grief for many who love working on the land and practicing our traditional ways.

Your Métis government is here to support trappers, through an investment of one million dollars into the creation of a fur company. This company will buy furs and hides at a good price, to help people working in one of our traditional economies make a living.

This investment will also allow us to support the growing microbusiness sector, which has been evolving at a rapid pace. For our Nation, there has been a significant growth in microbusinesses that focus on practicing our traditional arts like floral beading and moccasin making. We know many of our Red River Métis artists and artisans prefer traditionally harvested and treated hides and furs for their products. While we will explore new markets for the fur harvest, one of the new company's priorities will be providing these artists and artisans with the furs and hides harvested by our trappers.

Of course, as stewards of the land, we will make sure we're purchasing furs and hides from animals with high populations. That's one of the many reasons why it's important that we keep our focus on this company as a Red River Métis initiative for Red River Métis Citizens, as it reinforces our ongoing communication with Elders, Knowledge Keepers, local community members, and trappers and harvesters.

I hope that Red River Métis trappers are as excited as we are to bring back the trade that contributed significantly to our identity as a Nation. In many ways, it's bringing us home to our roots.

Making time for family on Louis Riel Day

Monday, February 21 is Louis Riel Day in Manitoba. Other provinces refer to this holiday as Family Day, making Manitoba the only province to name this day after Louis Riel. We are proud to have helped ensure that this day truly honours our founding father and first Premier, Louis Riel.

The idea of this holiday - spending time with family and community - resonates with the culture of the Métis, just as it does with many other cultures that share our province. Family and community are essential to us all. On Louis Riel Day, I hope you all get a chance to cherish your loved ones, as the province celebrates the importance of family, province, and country.

The MMF has been actively engaged in preparing events and activities to help Citizens and all Manitobans across all our Regions celebrate the day and acknowledge the important contributions of the Red River Métis and Louis Riel to our province. I encourage you to check out our website and social media to find an event near you, that you and your family can enjoy.

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


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