President's Message - June 12, 2019

June 12, 2019

The month of June is upon us, and not surprisingly our attempts to have our voices heard by the provincial government have fallen yet again, on deaf ears. You, the Citizens of the Métis Nation, need to know and understand, we are striving every day to have your Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights acknowledged and protected.

For instance, we continue to fight for even a morsel of accountability and consultation with the Brian Pallister government. We were not surprised to learn, The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has been left out of the new Manitoba-First Nation Mineral Development Protocol. The Métis were ignored, and not invited to participate, despite being Manitoba's Founders, rights-holders, taxpayers and its largest Indigenous People.

It is clear that taking a stand to protect our rights and our environment means being ostracized by this government. If Pallister is contradicted, or corrected, then he has no interest in dialogue. He is making policy decisions based on personal vendettas. He ignores an important rights-bearing Indigenous people, creating discord while he damages the future of the Mining industry.

I also continue to be baffled by the province's continued insult of the Manitoba Métis People by refusing to consult with us on the Manitoba- Minnesota Transmission Project. (MMTP) In the last week in May, the Premier travelled to Ottawa to try and convince Prime Minister Trudeau to bypass the MMF and green light the project.

Meanwhile, strong reconciliatory leadership is again manifesting in Ottawa. The MMF supports federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen's proposed changes to Canada's citizenship oath. Introduced as Bill C-99, the changes will require new Canadians to swear they will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Métis Nation and other Aboriginal Peoples.

This bill is another important step in the right direction towards true reconciliation.

I want to thank the leadership at the Manitoba Museum for unveiling a new exhibit chronicling a tragic and historic time in Métis History. Ni Kishkishin / I Remember Ste. Madeleine, retells the story of a forced relocation of hundreds of Métis People in Manitoba.

It's a story that needs to be told. The Citizens of Ste. Madeleine were literally burned out of their homes to make way for livestock and community pastures. I want to commend elder George Fleury for coming forward to recount that horrific story as part of the unveiling. George was just four years old at the time.

I hope all Manitobans will take the time to view this exhibit and absorb the systemic wrongs that were inflicted on these Métis Families.

And finally, please take a moment to reflect in your hearts, thoughts and prayers for the Veterans who paid the ultimate price during World War 2. I had the honour of attending the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy, France with other leaders from around the world.

I had the opportunity to lead a delegation of Métis Veterans, family members and elected officials and took part in several official events commemorating this historic day. Almost all of our Métis Veterans who fought in World War II are no longer with us and it was bittersweet for the family members who walked on the beaches where their fathers, grandfathers or uncles once ran through incoming Nazi gunfire.

It was a proud moment for the Métis Nation and Veterans. I am heartened that we were included in this global commemoration and justifiably proud of our Citizens' bravery and sacrifice from 75 years ago.

Along with paying tribute and meeting with Veterans at the event, I also travelled to England to meet with Metis Citizen Paul DeLorme. Delorme is a Métis Nation Veteran who now resides just outside London. He fought in several epic battles in World War 2 including Dieppe. He was even taken prisoner. Like most Metis Veterans the country he so bravely fought for turned its back on him when he returned from battle.

Thanks to close to twenty years of lobbying, and the federal government's recent commitment of $30 million to properly acknowledge Metis Veterans, I had the privilege to personally present Mr. DeLorme with a cheque for $20 thousand on this visit. While the money cannot erase the horrific memories of war, it will hopefully reassure Mr. DeLorme, that the country he risked his life for, is truly grateful for his courage.

In addition the announced money, the Trudeau government is working on an official apology to Métis Veterans and their families. For that and for all Veterans' service, I am exceedingly grateful.

Meeqwetch,

 


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