President's Message - January 20, 2021

January 20, 2021

The uncharacteristically warm weather in southern Manitoba has continued into the new year and I hope everyone is getting outside and continuing to responsibly protect themselves and those around them. I'm proud of all the Citizens who've listened to the guidance of your Métis Government by staying close to home and sticking to the COVID-19 guidelines.

Traditionally, the Métis Nation values being able to get together and celebrate holidays and occasions of importance. Due to COVID-19 we cannot gather, and I know this is hard for many. Citizens are missing their families and friends. I thank you all for being careful during the Christmas season, a time when many of us look forward to spending time with loved ones, celebrating the season and enjoying the aromas from the kitchen. Because of your care and caution, the new year has started with lower infection rates in the south. This trend and the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines give us hope that we are moving as a province toward the right pathway.

Canada has stated that we may not see full vaccination until December of this year.

Your Métis Government will not allow the provincial government's ongoing refusal to include us in their Indigenous plan for vaccine rollout pass unnoticed. We are actively talking with the federal government and raising awareness in the media about our needs and the Province's poor planning. We will keep fighting to get vaccines earmarked for our Elders and other vulnerable community members, and for inclusion in the Province's Indigenous plan.

Pallister continues to try and mislead and deceive Manitobans, and indeed all Canadians, by blaming the province's inefficient vaccine rollout on the fact that his government is consulting the Métis. This is simply not true. We have not been included in any meaningful committees or conversations to date. The only committee we've been invited to handles the communications strategy. There is no way we can create an effective communications strategy to encourage vaccination, without being included in the vaccine deployment strategy.

Recently, we also announced that we will be offering a Métis-specific testing site for our Citizens in and around Winnipeg. This testing site offers our people faster test results, allowing them to return to their families and workplace faster than before. To get a test done, Citizens must contact the MMF ahead of time, by calling 1-833-390-1041. We'll assist you with making an appointment and tell you where you need to go for the test.

Since the Province has yet to sign a data-sharing agreement with your Métis Government and is not telling us when our Citizens get COVID-19, we hope to use the data from the testing site to know when our Citizens are sick, so we can work with their families and provide wraparound services and support.

In spite of our efforts, we remain in the dark about the Province's plan for the Métis people. We have been talking with several federal ministers to ensure that they are aware of the lack of a COVID-19 plan for our people. These ministers have communicated their support of our demand to include a distinct approach for the Métis people in Manitoba's vaccine rollout strategy. I am hoping that I will be able to provide you with some positive updates on this in the coming weeks.

The big game season for our Métis Harvesters has now come to a close, in accordance with our Laws of the Harvest. Having written and published laws around our harvest is so important - not only does it allow us to share our traditions, it also allows us to share sustainable harvesting practices with Manitobans.

Congratulations to the Captains of the Hunt and the Métis Citizens for a successful, sustainable, and safe big game season. They made sure our Elders and vulnerable community members received meat from the harvest and don't have to worry about food security during this pandemic. It's this kind of community spirit that makes the Métis who we are.

We are proud of all our Citizens who participated in the Conservation Moose Harvesting Initiative in the Duck and Porcupine Mountains. The province tried to scare our people into hiding and not going out to practice our inherent right to harvest, but they failed. I thank all the Harvesters who went out with pride and showed everybody what it means to be Métis.

Of course, as noted earlier, big game season and the Conservation Moose Harvesting Initiative closed on January 15. As we move forward, we are going to be working toward conducting our own moose population surveys and working with the First Nations to create a joint Indigenous-led wildlife authority. I look forward to being able to provide more reports on this in the near future.

Let's continue to honour and celebrate our traditions. I also know that more and more of our people are waking up to their heritage and the sacrifices of their ancestors - I look forward to continuing to build your Métis Government to help all our Citizens in all aspects of their needs.

I can't end this message without again thanking our Local and Regional leadership and staff, who've continued to work hard to keep the Métis Nation safe and supported. I would also like to thank the MMF's COVID response team for starting 2021 by working just as hard for our Citizens as they did last year. Not just safe, but fed and well.

To date, your Métis Government has made and delivered more than 10,000 hampers to our Métis families and Elders to make sure all Citizens have enough to eat, even in the middle of a global pandemic. The hamper team plans to continue delivering hampers with an eye to delivering more in the coming months.

Thank you, the Citizens of our Nation, who believe in your Métis Nation and your Métis Government. Stay safe, look after each other as much as you can from a distance, and be confident that we'll keep fighting for you.

If there's something you need to keep safe and well during this time, reach out to your Métis government. We have your back.


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