President's Message - June 09, 2022

June 9, 2022

Wednesday, June 29 is the day we have scheduled for the inauguration of your elected officials, all of whom were given the authority, by you, to represent your Métis Government through acclamation across all regions and positions. This province-wide acclamation is history making, never before seen in our government. Together, we will be sworn into office, delivering our oaths in public and declaring before our people that we will be accountable to you, and fulfill the duties of our office to the best of our abilities.

As has been our tradition since 1997, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, the Honourable Janice C. Filmon, C.M., O.M. will preside over our inauguration. The tradition of being sworn in by Manitoba's Lieutenant Governor is reflective of the fact that we - like our provincial, federal, and civic counterparts - are governments, given our mandates by the will of the people. We know our inauguration and our oaths of office are just as important and impactful to the Citizens we serve as those in every other level of government.

As anyone who has ever held office knows, it's one thing to run for a leadership position. It's another to shoulder the enormous responsibility we are entrusted with, and to ensure that we are managing the significant workload that is required. This acclamation makes clear that we are honouring the trust of Citizens, and being given the opportunity to continue on the path we've taken, defending our unique identity as Red River Métis and continuing to advance the programs and services that our Citizens rely on.

Make no mistake, when your representatives are appointed to Cabinet and take on the portfolios assigned to them, they have the power to make an impact on the daily lives of Citizens, but they also take on the obligation of managing multi-million-dollar initiatives and outcomes that can change lives. It is a significant responsibility that I know each one of your representatives takes very seriously.

Uniting to deliver on a shared vision

Once the inauguration has taken place, we settle into the hard work. Cabinet members are appointed by the President to their portfolios, ratified by Cabinet and given mandate letters that outline what they are expected to achieve during their term. This is one of the ways we take your vision for our Nation and put it into action. A clear mandate and a clear set of expectations makes sure that each portfolio and each Cabinet member's work is contributing to the broader vision. The effort required to advance each portfolio is significant and continues to grow, particularly as we begin establishing the necessary framework to serve Citizens beyond borders, wherever they live.

Governing a Nation means bringing focus to many areas, and looking at the big picture of the many ways we can, and do, improve the lives of our Citizens. From child care to pharmacare, post-secondary education to housing, support for microbusinesses to large economic investments on behalf of the Nation, we are continuously working to ensure the long-term well-being of our Nation and our Citizens.

None of this work would be possible without the contributions of the leaders who came before us. Leaders at the local and regional level, historic leaders like Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont, and Cuthbert Grant, past presidents and beyond - our successes are owed to all who have stood and fought, refused to disappear and advocated for our Nation. We owe a debt to all these leaders and we must honour their contributions by leaving a legacy for future leaders to build on. Our grassroots leaders are the foundation builders of our Nation and I look forward to our continued dialogue to ensure that all parts of our government act in harmony.

I can't speak about the idea of leaving a legacy without speaking to the importance of the relationship between Youth and Elders. In our history, our communities - our parishes - were structured with extended families living close to each other, meaning that Elders were always present and ready to teach and nurture our Youth. Elders taught skills like harvesting and crafting, and told stories that taught our children how to live in a good way. More than that, Elders taught Youth about the importance of culture, of responsibility, and accountability to the community.

Modern life has made it more challenging for some Elders and Youth to interact this frequently. This connection is critical to the preservation of our culture in the long term, so we are actively working to improve and restore those connections, through Elder engagement at our child care facilities, our community building projects like the one in The Pas, and through conferences dedicated to supporting and reinforcing this relationship. Supporting the transmission of wisdom of Elders to the younger generations will always be a focus of your Métis Government. We are planning our next Elders Conference in Selkirk for the late summer or early fall, and our Youth will play an integral role in this meeting, as they always have.

A tradition of unity

If there is one thing this acclamation makes clear, it's that our Citizens stand united. Even during the days of the Buffalo Hunt - our earliest form of governance - debates and discussions within our Nation were always lively and passionate. Along with being an economically-minded people, we are also a politically-minded people. While we will debate an issue and express our views vigorously, once the people expressed their will through voting, the debate was over and we moved as a united front. This ability to unify was critical to the success of our hunts, which were the lifeblood of our Nation. That is our heritage and one of our great strengths as a Nation.

Lively debate and discussion still take place within your Métis Government, but this ability to unite is fundamental to our culture even today. Though your Métis Government has grown by leaps and bounds, with more than 1,000 employees, we are still able to be nimble and adapt to new information or new challenges. Through the late winter and spring snowfall, the Manitoba Métis Federation provided a new opportunity to young entrepreneurs who were willing and able to assist Elders with snow clearing. When those unusually heavy snows turned to heavy rain, we quickly assembled a flood assistance program. This is in addition to providing firewood for our Elders to stay warm - an initiative that is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.

If there is one message I hope Citizens take away from this, it's that your Métis Government will always unite and work together to meet your needs. We have your back and always will.

How we stay united today

Your Métis Government is constantly advancing our national agenda, delivering programs and services to Citizens and announcing new projects and initiatives. It can be a lot to keep up with, but transparent and accountable governance is critical to my leadership and to the approach of your elected officials in Cabinet. We also know, based on the survey of Citizens last spring, that you feel strongly that educating all Manitobans and Canadians about who we are and what we stand for is a priority. We are the Red River Métis, and our heritage, history, and contributions to Canada must be recognized and honoured.

We use a large variety of communications tools to make sure you can stay informed and that we raise awareness of our activities in the public eye. We make good use of billboards, radio, and television commercials, along with advertisements in both regional and local newspapers to share information about our priorities and our key messages.

Social media is another significant way in which we engage with Citizens - and where we often promote important information or alert you to events taking place near you. We also send letters and news releases to Citizens via email, for those who prefer to receive their information that way.

If you're a regular listener of the Métis Hour x2 on NCI every Saturday from 11-1, you know that this is another opportunity for Citizens to hear a 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 priorities you've told us are important to you.

You can choose any or all of these ways to engage with your Métis Government, but I encourage you to stay informed as we continue to advance our agenda. Your active participation and continued commitment to protecting our identity are foundational to our ability to be united.

As your President, I am deeply grateful to once again serve Citizens, who have done me the honour of giving me the responsibility and trust to protect our Nation. I can assure you that the confidence you have shown in me will be honoured. I will work hard, as I always have, to address your needs and secure your rights. I will also make sure that no one can ever steal our identity, and leave the legacy of our heritage and culture for our Youth. You honour me, my wife Glorian, and our family with your faith, and from my heart, I thank you for this privilege.

Until we can be together 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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