President's Message - June 26, 2019

June 26, 2019

July is our month to fully embrace all that summer has to offer. It is also the provincial government's opportunity to accept the olive branch that is being handed to them.

As has been reported in the media recently, the federal government was forced to delay the approval of the 213-kilometre Manitoba- Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) line when they recognized that the Pallister government didn't properly consult with Indigenous communities.

This delay was a powerful statement. The reaction from our province was blame. Blame launched at the federal government, and more blame directed toward the Hydro Board. But now the smoke has cleared. A decision has been made. Ottawa approved the project, but with some very straightforward conditions.

One of the 28 National Energy Board license conditions make it clear that Manitoba Hydro must honour its commitments to Indigenous Peoples and the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF). That includes our $67.5-million reconciliation and accommodation agreement that had been improperly discarded by the Pallister government. The agreement we have had to fight the Pallister government to reinstate. It is regrettable that we've been forced into conflict. But conflict can result in progress.

Here is an opportunity for Pallister. This is his moment to embrace true reconciliation. Now Ottawa has weighed in and further validated our position, Pallister can acknowledge the Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights of the Citizens of the Metis Nation, the Founders of Manitoba, and show us that he hears our collective voice. His action must now be to reinstate our agreement, so the plan can go forward and meet its timeline. This will be to everyone's advantage. The $453-million transmission project benefits every single citizen of Manitoba, helps to fight climate change and transition to a lower carbon economy. If he does not reinstate the Agreement, then we will continue to protect our rights through the courts.

If there is no progress on the MMTP, there will be no one to blame but Pallister.

The very definition of strong leadership, leadership that has resulted in recognition and justice, was recently confirmed in Ottawa with the Crown-Metis Nation Summit. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was presented with the Order of the Metis Nation, our highest award to acknowledge those who have made a significant contribution to the Metis. His contributions have been positive and real ones.

A recent action is the $30-million Metis Veterans Recognition Payment Contribution Agreement I recently signed in Ottawa along with Veterans Affairs Minister, Lawrence MacAulay. Money is being paid out to Métis Veterans and their survivors. I had the honour of presenting a payment to Saskatchewan native and Second World War Veteran Paul DeLorme, who now resides in England. A trust fund will also be set up for families. I am thankful the bravery and sacrifice of the Métis People are finally being recognized. We are now righting past wrongs. There are few Métis Veterans still alive and I will meet with these heroes personally to thank them and deliver their cheques. The remaining funds will be allocated after careful consultation with veterans, families and community.

This is a strong demonstration of how our relationship with Ottawa is Reconciliation in Action. Not empty words, but active working to respect our Metis government, our rights, claims and interests and the many unique challenges, such as veteran's rights, jobs, housing and post- secondary education. Your MMF government is dedicated to reclaiming our rightful place in Confederation.

Next year is the landmark 150 years since the Metis Nation joined Canada. The Metis Nation's Manitoba Metis Community is Canada's Negotiating Partner in Confederation and the Founder of Manitoba. We have been working with Canada on a number of initiatives to celebrate our important 2020 anniversary. We invite all levels of government to join us as our Metis Nation marks Manitoba's birthday.

We always hold close to our hearts the contributions of our Elders, who are the keepers of our history and our values. Recently the MMF attended the annual Keeping the Fires Burning event hosted by Ka Ni Kanichihk and the sakihiwewin Foundation, and welcomed nine elders into the Circle of Honour. I want to congratulate Eldon Campbell on his recognition as our Métis Elder at the ceremony. I also want to thank Minister Anita Campbell for attending on my behalf.

The strength of our Elders inspires us to be strong.

I invite everyone to Ste. Madeleine Metis Days, July 19-21. This is the 80th anniversary since the forced relocation of the people of Ste. Madeleine. We will mark the occasion by coming together in the spirit of community with entertainment, games, dancing, fiddling, kid's activities, a historical tour, and much, much more. There will be free camping for your enjoyment! I would like to thank the Ste. Madeleine local executive and volunteers for their hard work making this event a reality.

The Ste. Madeleine story is a firm reminder of why we fight so hard against injustice. The tragedy happened not so very long ago. That is why we gather together to celebrate acts of reconciliation, and why we must always be vigilant and strive to protect our Métis Families and ensure future generations, remember our past.

Finally, please keep in your thoughts and prayers, members of our community who are experiencing illness or have recently lost a loved one. I pray for your continued strength in trying times.

Meeqwetch,

 


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