President's Message - June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Our Citizens know that our Nation and our ancestors were the dominant force in our Homeland for generations before Canada gained effective control of our territory. Our Citizens also know that after 1885, we became Canada's forgotten people for nearly 100 years.

Today, our culture is experiencing a revival, with many people returning to our Nation, reclaiming their lost identity and learning about our important contributions to the creation of Manitoba and Canada. Our voices are gaining strength, our citizenship is growing in leaps and bounds, and we are slowly turning the tide that saw us forgotten.

It is so important that we remember where we came from, and the effort it took to make this revival happen. We recently celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day across our country - an important time for us to reflect on our accomplishments and our vision for the future. It's equally important that we take the time to gather and share in our culture. This is one of the ways we can preserve it for future generations.

Our children will always benefit from community events. Not only does it help them build on their pride in who they are, it allows them to see the cultural significance we put on sharing food, laughter, and music with our community and our neighbours.

Of course, events like the one in Selkirk - and events in all regions - would not be possible without the strength of our Locals and their grassroots, volunteer efforts.

Along with plenty of food, games, and booths, music was a big feature of the day's events. The entertainment was provided by some of our incredible musicians and jiggers, including Morgan Grace, Krista Rae, and the Métis Club Traditional Dancers. It simply would not be a Red River Métis event without music to get your toes tapping and jigging to raise your energy, and our flags flying proudly in celebration of our culture.

The Selkirk Local does a large amount of work to make the Selkirk festivities happen. A team of volunteers helped put everything together and ensure the little details that matter so much to Red River Métis hospitality were looked after. I'd also like to thank the Teulon Métis Local's volunteers for making a delicious breakfast to feed all the attendees. These grassroots leaders and their volunteers are people who put their hearts and souls into this important work. They spent countless hours of their free time to make the event a tremendous success, all while ensuring the community turns out in full force to represent our community pride. To all those who helped make Selkirk's National Indigenous Peoples Day a success, I thank you from my heart for everything you do.

I also thank the City of Selkirk for their generous in-kind donations that included use of the Memorial Hall. Our ability to host this event at no cost for all attendees is due in part to their generosity and partnership. Our relationship with the City of Selkirk continues to thrive, and now includes the $14.3-million investment into 55+ housing that we recently announced. There are many Red River Métis Citizens living in the city, and I appreciate that two levels of government can come together and invest in the Red River Métis presence in Selkirk.

I know the spirit and energy of our revival could be seen and heard by everyone in our communities during the festivities. I am so proud of our Nation and our Citizens, and I pray that we stay who we are, and never become swamped by other identities claiming to be us.

This is one of the reasons why our relationships with our First Nations relatives are so important. Identity theft affects all Indigenous Nations in Canada, as pretenders seem to take elements of our identity and elements of First Nations culture to create something new, all while claiming it as historic.

As our fellow stewards of the land and people we share territory or common interests with, it's vital that we work in harmony with the First Nations and find ways to support one another. Ambassador Clément Chartier and I are actively working toward strengthening these relationships, respecting our unique Nations and identities.

There can be no doubt that we stand strong in our prairie homeland, in the province we brought into Canada's Confederation in 1870. I truly believe we are making progress toward the vision Louis Riel had for our Nation, and I can't wait for us to take the next steps forward. We are no longer Canada's forgotten people. We have recognized harvesting rights. Our citizenship is expanding beyond the borders that did not exist when we declared our nationhood. We are educated, knowledgeable, and proud.

We are breathing new life into traditional economies like the fur trade and fishing. We are supporting artists and artisans as they create our signature flower beadwork and create new and innovative designs that represent their pride in our people. Your Métis Government is hard at work making significant investments and creating self-sustaining programs and services that will ensure the long-term well-being of our Citizens and our Nation.

We are recognized in Canada's constitution as one of the three Indigenous Peoples of Canada - a distinct and unique Nation. Never again will we see our villages burnt out to make room for cattle pastures, like we did in Ste. Madeleine. Never again will our people be chased out of the community that means everything to us, like we did in Rooster Town. Never again will our Veterans go unrecognized for their valour in defence of democracy in our Homeland or abroad. Never again will we be the forgotten people. Your Cabinet and I will continue fighting to build on this strong legacy for the next generation of leaders. We will continue to advance ourselves, hitting milestones that include the settlement of our land claim and our modern-day treaty, along with the delivery of a Métis-specific healthcare strategy.

I hope you all had the chance to spend quality time with friends and family on this important day. I also hope you took a moment to celebrate your unique heritage as Red River Métis and appreciate all the progress we have made in advancing our Nation.

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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