President's Message - January 02, 2024

January 2, 2024

I hope all our Elders and seniors, Youth and families across our Homeland and beyond had a wonderful Christmas, and a joyous New Year, with friends and family, sharing music, laughter, games, and a hearty bowl of traditional boulette soup, moose meat, or goose to usher in 2024.

This is the time of year when we reflect on the year that passed, thinking about the accomplishments of the previous year and considering what needs to be done in 2024. Of course, it's also a time when we reflect on the people who were not at the table for Christmas supper, and mourn the loss of our loved ones.

At times, this can be a very difficult time of year for our Citizens. I hope everyone who is able has reached out to those around them with a message of love, a hug, a plate of food, or even a simple act of service, like shoveling out walkways and driveways. Citizens know our Red River Métis traditions are ones of giving, not receiving, and I'm certain all of you honoured the ways of our Ancestors in your Christmas activities.

While we all experienced losses, and witnessed a rise in global conflict that does great harm to individuals who are caught in the crossfire, we must never lose hope for a brighter tomorrow, and put our energies into doing what we can to make positive contributions to the world.

Reflections on 2023

Your Red River Métis Government, together with you, our Citizens, accomplished a lot in 2023. Just to name a few, we opened Fre Maachi - New Beginnings, to support our Citizens who need help coming out of homelessness. We opened new child care centres, broke ground on Michif Manor - a Ronald McDonald House for our people - to give a warm and welcoming place to stay for our families who must travel to Winnipeg for medical care. We also broke ground on Mazoun Infinitii Pakoshayimoohk/Infinity House of Hope, a safe place for children in care with our agencies or those aging out, to come if they need help, a place to stay, or even a cup of coffee and a sympathetic ear. We are also starting construction on our food security and tree nursery greenhouses, with the tree nurseries' goal to grow 50 million trees in 20 years.

We purchased 200 Main Street and began moving some of our departments and affiliates there to better serve our Citizens. Information about which services for Citizens will be provided from the new office, or by phoning 204-589-8474. We also underwent a significant retrofit and renovation of our Home Office, reducing its carbon footprint and making it more environmentally friendly.

Of course, 2023 was also a year when we traveled to see our Citizens within Manitoba and beyond those borders, to consult with them about our treaty and hear their thoughts and feelings. This excitement culminated in our Extraordinary General Assembly in June, where thousands of Citizens showed their overwhelming support for the treaty, with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts.

At our Annual General Assembly in October, we heard Premier Wab Kinew - the first First Nations Premier in Canada - make a promise to our people that one of his first acts as Premier would be to recognize Louis Riel as the first Premier of Manitoba. While I know this was a powerful announcement to make, no one could be sure of when this would take place.

When the Premier and his team made it the first Act they had the ability to introduce, we understood that they were intent on delivering on the commitment the Premier made to our Assembly.

I was proud to witness the Louis Riel Act proceed through its readings, to speak to the provincial committee that studied it, and to be there in the gallery when it received Royal Assent. This is truly a historic time for our people, and after many decades of leading the charge to see this change take place - step by step, slowly advancing this important cause over the terms of at least five different provincial premiers - I know that Red River Métis children will hear the truth in their classrooms, and all Manitoban or Canadian children will understand the important role that Louis Riel and the Red River Métis played in bringing Canada into the West.

There is always more work to be done on advancing the true history of our people and our contributions to Canada, and I know next year will offer us new challenges and opportunities on this and many other fronts.

Looking to the future

After all the work, excitement, and consultation about our modern-day treaty, I know Citizens were disappointed that it has not yet been ratified by Canada. Citizens who attended our Annual General Assembly heard Gary Anandasangaree, Canada's Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, issue his personal pledge that the treaty would be signed by his government, and we continue the work to finish the last, small details so that it can be completed early in 2024.

Once the treaty is signed and complete, our focus will turn to settling our land claim. Citizens know that we received a firm commitment from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he and his government would settle our outstanding land claim this term, which will help address the fact that the 1.4 million acres of land promised to our children as part of bringing Canada into our newly created province were not properly delivered.

The settlement of this land claim will completely transform how your Red River Métis Government operates, giving us freedom from the worries of changing political winds that could stop us from providing the programs and services needed by our Citizens. I also commend those who voted in favour of Resolution 14 in 2013, which ensured that the restitution paid by Canada to the descendants of these children will be kept in investments to help all of our people in the years to come. There is such wisdom in this decision, and an unselfish view that confirms that we remain a collective, as we were in the past, that focuses on the well-being of all.

Along with these important milestones, we must continue to protect our distinct culture and heritage. There can be no doubt that our identity remains under threat from those who would hide themselves behind Louis Riel, our beadwork, our music, and our flag, all in order to create a place for themselves in our advancement to our rights and resources. We will continue to push vigorously against this invasion of our identity, just as our Ancestors stood against the invasion of our Homeland. 2023 demonstrated that our First Nations and Inuit relatives are becoming increasingly aware that these same frauds are not confining themselves to stealing the identity of the Red River Métis - they are using First Nations and Inuit ancestors to distort the meaning of the word Métis, creating communities and cultures that did not historically exist and who have no connection with us.

In March of 2024, there will be an emergency summit with key rightsholders and stakeholders to discuss this pressing issue, and find ways to work together to dispel the myths and protect our respective identities. Highly publicized cases of individual identity fraud are well known and well documented, but we have more work to do to ensure that this attempted mass theft of identity is better understood and publicized - we believe this emergency summit will be an important part of that movement.

There is so much to look forward to in 2024, I could keep writing about it well into spring - these are just some of the highlights and important matters that we know are coming. We will also see our kids in care and formerly in care finally receive justice and restitution for the years Manitoba's government withheld their Children's Special Allowance from them. We will see new child care facilities open. Renovations will continue on our heritage centre. Youth camps for sports and land-based learning will take place. I'm excited about what 2024 will bring our Citizens and our Nation, and I hope you are too.


Another hallmark of this time of year is feeling and expressing gratitude to our loved ones and our community. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to our Locals and our Citizens, along with the staff and Cabinet of your Red River Métis Government. Our Locals are the grassroots foundation of our government - they are governed by Citizens who work together to ensure that their voices are heard and their will is expressed. Your will is then formalized through our Cabinet, and our staff works very hard to bring this vision to life. I am proud of each and every person who has contributed to the advancement and well-being of our Nation, and hope you all know that your hard work does not go unnoticed.

I want to say a special thank-you to our seniors and Elders, and to our Youth for being strong during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Helping your family and your Red River Métis Government will benefit all your people throughout our Nation and our Homeland.

Until we gather again, 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.

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

I look forward to seeing you all in 2024!



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