President's Message - January 8, 2020

January 8, 2020

First, let me take this moment to wish you and yours the very best for the new year and for this new decade. The year 2020 promises to be a pivotal and critical year for the Metis Citizens of this province that we so bravely and proudly founded 150 years ago. I promise you here and now that your Metis Government will make every effort to give this anniversary the attention it so richly deserves.

Some of you may ask, why do we need to take this approach? Why can we not just be part of the 150th celebrations being hosted by the Province of Manitoba? If only it were that simple and straightforward. According to a recent editorial by the Winnipeg Free Press on the Manitoba 150, the group in charge of this year's events at the provincial level makes no mention of Louis Riel or the Red River Resistance on its website, or in any of the news releases it has issued to date. A quick scan of the website reveals no mention of Metis-focused events either.

However, the lack of acknowledgement by the Manitoba 150 committee is just a snapshot of a bigger issue... one that I continually work to try to resolve. In this year, the 150th anniversary of the provisional government, the committee makes no mention of the Red River Resistance and the events that led to the adoption of the Manitoba Act within the walls of the Manitoba Legislative building. Even though we as a people founded this very province, there is relatively little to no acknowledgement of the critical role we played.

What makes this even more maddening is that we enter 2020 doing what we did 150 years ago. We find ourselves still fighting for our rights. We find ourselves in a battle to be properly recognized by the current provincial government led by a premier who looks down on the founders of this great province. Remember, he thinks we are nothing but a special interest group. Given the significance of this year, that is particularly hurtful and insulting. An event like Manitoba 150 should be about inclusion and tolerance. Instead, we see an angry and vindictive leader prepared to go so far as to exclude Metis families from the celebration.

That's not to say we haven't made great strides. I know for a fact that my leadership and the Metis Nation were acknowledged at the official kickoff of the Manitoba 150 celebrations, which were held on the legislative grounds in December. Also, the current federal government has shown time and time again that it respects our rightful place in Confederation and in the history of the building of Manitoba and Canada. The fact that a legitimate news publication like the Winnipeg Free Press also points out the need to properly acknowledge the Metis in 2020 shows the message is slowly but surely getting through.

It is still very clear that we have much work do and have so much more awareness to raise when it comes to educating Manitobans on our role in the creation of this province we call home.

As I indicated in my Christmas message, the Cabinet, executive, and staff of the Manitoba Metis Federation will be making every effort to properly commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance. From the Winterlude Festival in our nation's capital to the Ste. Madeleine Metis Days in July, we will do everything we can to honour the great Metis Leader, Riel, as well as the Métis Provisional Government. You need to look no further than our newly created campaign on billboards, transit buses, and even at the Richardson International Airport. We are boldly and proudly promoting the Metis aspect to Manitoba 150 and we are doing it in a way that will make the Citizens we represent proud.

Of course, these are just a couple of the events we will be hosting and promoting to mark 2020. Please keep checking our website and social media channels for updated information, photos, and coverage of all our Metis 150 celebrations. It will truly be a year to remember!

As we look to the year ahead, remember, must never forget our past, nor those who once walked beside us and who now watch over us. Our departed grandparents, parents, siblings, and cousins will always be dearly remembered in our hearts. It is in their memory that we continue the journey toward our lasting place in the Confederation that Riel and our families helped to build. I pray and share my heartfelt condolences for all those who have lost loved ones. I also offer my best wishes for those who are sick or shut in.

May this new year bless you with healing and a fresh start. On behalf of your MMF Cabinet, staff, and Citizens, I wish you all a healthy, happy, and successful new year.



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