President's Message - June 22, 2023

June 26, 2023

In the three months prior to our Extraordinary General Assembly, the National Government of the Red River Métis held consultations across our Homeland and beyond from Ottawa to Vancouver and south of the border in North Dakota.

During these historic consultations and throughout the weekend of the Extraordinary General Assembly, Red River Métis Citizens attended in record numbers, with thousands from across the Homeland and beyond. Citizens were filled with pride to learn about what the Red River Métis Self Government and Recognition Treaty would mean for us after living as a forgotten people, abandoned by the Canadian government since 1870.

We all learned - indeed, we remembered - that when united, we are a force to be reckoned with, just like our Ancestors. The ratification of our Treaty cannot be taken away from us, no matter what happens in the future. As though weaving a new thread into our Sash, we are writing the next chapter of our history. I am looking forward to September when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Minister Miller are expected to attend our Annual General Assembly and sign our Treaty. After this, the Treaty will be introduced in the House of Commons as new legislation. When the Treaty becomes law, it will form part of Canada's Constitution and our people will be protected from being erased or dismissed.

Here are some of the many reflections of Red River Métis Citizens from across our Homeland:

"I never thought we'd see the day when we'd be recognized as a people."

James Stewart Moran, Red River Métis Elder

"We grew up being poor, being half breeds, we didn't know any different. We belonged in the community that wasn't accepted by the whites, not accepted by First Nations. We knew who we were, we had our own pride, we had to keep it to ourselves. Not anymore."

(Selkirk) - Bev Webb (Red River Métis Citizen)

"What I hope this will do for the Youth is to have confidence in themselves to do their culture and not to be ashamed, and to say I'm a proud Métis."

June Bruce, Red River Métis Elder

"The Métis are getting their due, we're getting our rights recognized and entrenched into the constitution. Our next generation coming are going to be the real beneficiaries of it."

Cecil Thorne, Chair of Pikwitonei Local, Thompson, MB

"We're making history today, like really we are making history, and when I listen to President Chartrand talk and I listen to Spokeswoman Campbell talk, it just raises my pride. I just get this deep sense of pride to be a part of this conversation and part of this history. It's history in the making and I'm so proud of our government."

IWS Consultation - Adrienne Carriere (Vice-Spokeswoman, IWS)

"When I was in school we weren't allowed to say we were Métis, and now we can be acknowledged by the government for being Métis."

EGA Satellite Location (Vancouver) - Debra Kessler

"Today I don't have to shed no tears. I'll shed tears tomorrow; they'll be tears of joy. You know, I'm just happy for us Métis people."

EGA - Norman Campbell

"What can there be, what more can any Nation want than the people that are literally doing what we are doing today, wholeheartedly?"

EGA - Robyn Lawson

"This is Louis Riel's dream, this is what Louis Riel died for, this is what he believed in, and this is happening, actually right now. He must be smiling up there looking at us."

EGA - Jim Durocher (Red River Métis Veteran)

After 153 years, we are forgotten no more. Sir John A. Macdonald tried to erase us. Macdonald failed Louis Riel and Canada and failed to honour the promises made in the Manitoba Act, 1870. But this only made us more determined. Riel's death made him our Martyr. We continued to pay a price for who we are, but we did not forget Riel's vision for the Red River Métis - our People and Nation.

I am glad that the Crown have proved that I am the leader of the Half-breeds (Red River Métis) in the North-West. I will perhaps be one day acknowledged as more than a leader of the Half-breeds, and if I am I will have an opportunity of being acknowledged as a leader of good in this great country.

- Louis Riel

Even when we were driven from our land and displaced across the Prairies during the Reign of Terror, we did not disappear. We continued to be a community. In 1939 - more than 50 years after Riel's death, our people were forced from their homes in Ste. Madeleine. The town had been a thriving community for 50 years before being burned to the ground, with the land the community was built on taken for use as pasture for cattle.

MMF Cabinet Minister John Fleury and his family know the history of Ste. Madeleine well. Minister Fleury's father George was a four-year-old child when his home and community were destroyed. This tragedy happened to our parents and our grandparents. Even after the pain of being driven from our homes, Red River Métis were loyal to Canada and answered the call to serve in World War II. Through the betrayal and the pain, we did not disappear. We remained a community and a Nation.

Never forget that only we are the Red River Métis, the creators of the Manitoba Act, 1870 and the people who negotiated Manitoba's entry into Confederation. We are the Flower Beadwork People, Otipemisiwak, the Michif. We are the people of the Red River Cart and the Red River Jig. Red River Métis are the people of the Buffalo Hunt, who wrote the Laws of the Prairie. Be proud of our heritage and celebrate it.

On June 21st, we celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day, with events like Métis Days in Selkirk and others across Manitoba. If you have ever attended this annual event, you would have seen many local Red River Métis artists and musicians providing entertainment across the Homeland. From Aboriginal Peoples Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, we have always called this day Métis Day. It is where we teach people about Red River Métis history and our rights as Red River Métis Citizens and where we celebrate our identity and our culture. These free MMF events include entertainment for the whole family and traditional food to enjoy for all individuals and families that join in the activities.

I offer my prayers to those families and loved ones impacted by last week's tragic collision near Carberry, Manitoba. The aftermath of this terrible accident is still not fully realized, but I know we have lost Red River Métis Citizens, losses that we must come together and mourn as the community and kin we are. Our hearts and prayers go directly to the individuals who are hurting right now, seeking answers to how this could have happened. We also pray for those who are still in hospital as they fight to heal the injuries they suffered.

The loss of Seniors and Elders also means the loss of storytellers and Knowledge Keepers - they are the ones who ensure continuity in understanding who we are. On behalf of the National Government of the Red River Métis, we hold those who are coping with loss and their families and loved ones in our thoughts and in our prayers.



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