President's Message - June 10, 2020

June 10, 2020

I think over these past couple of weeks we can finally say summer has arrived. We can finally take a moment and sit outside in the sun and think about how blessed we are to live in such a wonderful area of Canada.

Recently, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) announced a new affordable housing initiative within the historic Metis settlement of St. Boniface on Eugenie Street. Giving our Metis Citizens access to affordable housing is critical to your Metis Government.

We are using our list of Metis contractors and Metis businesses to help construct and supply these projects to the best of our ability. It is incredibly important that these projects have a large economic impact within the Manitoba Metis Community. This will truly provide H.O.P.E. by Helping Our People's Economy. Now is the time to invest in ourselves and our people.

It is also important that we are finding these lands and planning these projects in locations where plenty of proud Metis Citizens already live. We are doing our due diligence when planning and developing these projects. We need to ensure that our Metis Citizens do not have to leave their kin or Community behind in order to access services.

Our ancestors negotiated the Manitoba Act with the same thoughts in mind. They wanted to make sure that kinship ties were maintained and that they were not forced to disperse and lose that crucial connection. As we proved in the MMF v. Canada Supreme Court case in 2013, those lands were never distributed. Not only were our people removed from the Red River Settlement, but in the following decades they were also forcibly removed from their lands in St. Madeleine, Rooster Town, and many other settlements across the Homeland.

As your Manitoba Metis Government, it is our responsibility to make sure that we protect our future generations from displacement. Over the past number of months, we have been searching the province far and wide for available land that we could develop and use to provide services to our Metis Citizens.

In the Northwest Region, we have been purchasing land and are now in the process of working with the local leaders to make sure projects move forward smoothly. Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Dauphin to meet with the mayors of Dauphin and Swan River to discuss the construction of daycare facilities as well as offices to serve our active Locals in the area. These plans are not exclusive to the Northwest region.

We are also currently looking at opportunities across the province to find places to build more Local Offices, daycare facilities, pharmacies, and housing facilities. These Local Offices are a huge step forward in our governance. During this COVID pandemic, we discovered opportunities for growth in our governance system, and are working towards a better communication strategy with our grassroots level of government.

The COVID-19 crisis also forced us to adapt and modernize our online infrastructure. We have been utilizing video conferencing platforms for our meetings whenever possible and have incorporated these into our weekly Cabinet meetings. We also began to use our website in ways that we never considered essential before. Our website is reaching record numbers of visits due in part to our daily video updates and livestreams.

Another event we would have never considered before COVID is the Metis Jig & Jam that will be livestreamed on June 21. This eight-hour variety show is part of our celebration of Manitoba 150, National Indigenous Peoples Day, and Father's Day, featuring the best in Metis entertainment. There will be world-class jiggers and fiddlers mixed with historical vignettes, Metis art, and teaching moments from our Metis Elders. In these unique times you can tune in on our website, mmf.mb.ca, from 12 pm to 8 pm, and watch on TV as there will be a one-hour feature on CTV News at 4 pm.

Another special event that we will be sure not to miss is convocation season, celebrating our Metis graduates. The MMF has been working on a provincial ceremony to acknowledge graduation for our Metis university and college graduates. Your Metis Government looks forward to accompanying our Metis students on their lifelong learning journey. Events are occurring across the province between June 19 and 25.

Rest assured, your Manitoba Metis Government, much like our Citizens, will emerge from this crisis evolved and, in some respects, further ahead than the way we entered.

On June 6, people across Canada and the world observed the 76th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces stormed a five-mile stretch of beaches in Normandy. Metis soldiers fought side-by-side with First Nations and non-Indigenous soldiers in all of Canada's pivotal battles, including D-Day. Though the Metis Nation was mistreated before and after the War, many felt that it was their patriotic duty to enlist and fight tyranny across the globe.

I hope everyone took time this past weekend to reflect and honour all Veterans, and if not, please take some time after reading this to honour all Veterans for their sacrifices.

Recently, we honoured our 23rd Metis Veteran. WWII Metis Veteran William Hurteau received his $20,000 Recognition Payment in Sudbury on June 2. As the Minister responsible for the Metis Veterans file, I typically would go and spend a day talking with our heroes and listen to their inspirational stories. Unfortunately, as a result of pandemic protocols, I was unable to do that, but I was well represented by Brian Black, President of the Ontario Metis Veterans Council, and had the opportunity to talk on the phone with Veteran Hurteau.

It is critical that our WWII Metis Veterans and their families know that they will not be forgotten despite the pandemic.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and keeping their spirits up. Remember to tune into The Beat Goes On every Thursday at 7 pm, and please note that we will now broadcast our Saturday shows on Tuesdays at 7 pm instead. The first Tuesday show will be on June 16. Red River Cart Adventures, our video series for Metis children presented by the Louis Riel Institute, also airs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings at 10 am.

We are facing a new time during this COVID-19 era. I keep in my prayers all those affected by COVID-19 or facing struggles and loss. We know these are not easy times with the challenges we face. The MMF is working diligently on providing a new way forward with HOPE.

Your Manitoba Metis Government is here for you, now and always. Always remember: the MMF has got your back!

Meeqwetch,

 


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