President's Message - January 6, 2021

January 6, 2021

We at the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) hope that everyone had a safe, healthy, and celebratory Christmas and New Year's. For many people, the New Year means turning a new leaf and starting a fresh canvas for us to continue to grow and further our agenda.

The MMF is proud of our Citizens and especially our youth for continuing to practice COVID-19 pandemic protocols and keeping their loved ones and communities safe. Our youth have not forgotten that although they are more likely to survive this horrible virus - it is not about them but rather it is about their families and Elders.

With 2021 being a fresh page for us as a Nation, as your Manitoba Métis Government we are going to be focused on making 2021 the year of growth and economic development. In 2020 we already started our vast, province-wide strategy to create economic opportunities and sustainable living options for our Citizens. This year we are going to expand more on these efforts.

In 2021 we are looking forward to buying new land, infrastructure, and constructing new buildings that will bring various benefits to our Manitoba Métis Citizens. Some of these buildings will include Child Care Centres, Senior Housing, Affordable Living, and many other great ventures. We will continue to make sure our construction projects will help as many of our Métis entrepreneurs and contractors as possible.

We will continue to protect our harvesting rights, work towards modern co-management agreements with other Indigenous rightsholders, as well as other governments. We will continue to work on protecting the environment and wildlife as we ensure our elders' teachings are passed down through the generations. We anticipate that we will be building greenhouses and begin planting trees to do our part in tackling climate change.

Going forward we will continue to be the economic engine of the province that we established in 1870. Since the dawn of our Nation, we have been economically minded and motivated to create better living conditions for our families and community through economic expansion while respecting the environment. Today is no different.

Though we have much to look forward to in 2021, we are also facing some challenges and hardships as we continue to fight to get our Métis Citizens included in the vaccine rollout plan. Currently, the Province has not included the Métis in their initial discussions or rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. This, despite our willingness to participate, as Indigenous Peoples, and the founders of this province. The continued mishandling of the pandemic plan by the provincial government will not stop our efforts to ensure the Métis people of Manitoba receive equitable care.

We have been in dialogue with the federal government and have received word from Minister Miller and Minister Vandal that the Manitoba Métis will be included in future vaccine rollouts. They too find it unfair that the Province is intentionally leaving the Manitoba Métis out of their vaccine strategy.

It is unimaginable that we can face this level of discrimination during the 150th anniversary of the Métis Nation bringing Manitoba into Confederation. Without the Métis, Manitoba may not have existed, nor the westernmost provinces that came after us. As we celebrated 150 with fireworks, billboards, virtual shows and by other means within our households, we remembered this. Pallister would not even utter the words "Métis" when addressing the province as he tried to erase us from this province's history, but he failed. Manitobans across the province remember who established this province.

Time and time again, studies continue to show that the Métis are the most susceptible to chronic illness. One thing that COVID has highlighted is the severe inequity that exists in our healthcare system. As it stands, the First Nations and Inuit have their own federal health branch and the Métis are stuck falling between the cracks of federal and provincial jurisdiction. We are hoping that the new distinctions-based health legislation promised to us by Prime Minister Trudeau will help reverse this inequity and help our Citizens live healthier, happier, and longer lives.

Something else to look forward to in the new year is a new communications strategy that will help us reach out to our Citizens in new, innovative, and previously unimagined ways. Staying connected to the Métis Nation with information sharing and transparency is integral to our success. This will help our people access life-changing programs and services the MMF provides. We are looking forward to unveiling these updated services in the future.

I would like to thank all of those who helped make 2020 so special, despite the unique circumstances, and we hope that you too are looking forward to 2021 for what it is: a new page, with great opportunities to expand and grow as a Nation. I will be keeping all those affected by COVID-19 in my prayers. Though the cases in Manitoba are slowly declining, we hope that you all remain healthy and safe during these trying times.

As we leave 2020 behind, I would like to thank Louis Riel and the other Métis leaders who founded this beautiful province that we are all so blessed to call home.


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