President's Message - March 02, 2022

March 2, 2022

I'm sure you've heard about the heartbreaking invasion of Ukraine, at the command of Russia's President Vladimir Putin. While Ukrainian men of fighting age are expected to stay and fight against this invasion, many women, children, and Elders are fleeing to countries like Poland and Hungary to escape the violence taking place against their homes, schools, and workplaces.

The Red River Métis understand very well what it means to fight desperately to preserve your Nation and your independence, as many of our ancestors gave everything to defend us. We are fierce defenders of democracy, and I know many people within our Nation will have strong feelings about these horrendous acts by the Russian military.

The earliest Ukrainian immigrants came to Manitoba in the early 1890s, so they have been our neighbours and friends for more than a hundred years. Over those years, many have intermarried with our Nation, which means they are not just our friends and neighbours - in many cases, they are our family.

I am certain that these events are weighing heavily on our war Veterans and their families, who are intimately familiar with the cost of war, and the personal price it can inflict. Over the years, I have had the privilege of speaking with many Métis Veterans across our Homeland. In those discussions, many told me they drew comfort from the idea that their sacrifices would ensure that no future generations would ever be called upon to make the same sacrifices.

For our Veterans, and our Citizens with Ukrainian heritage or Ukrainian loved ones, know that the Nation of the Red River Métis stands in solidarity with you and with Ukraine.

While these events are tragic and alarming, there are bright lights that shine. Many Ukrainian civilians, including seniors, are staying in their communities and preparing to take up arms to defend their country, their loved ones, and their freedom. Other Ukrainians are standing in line to donate blood for injured troops. The borders of Ukraine's neighbouring countries are being opened to those who have had to leave, offering shelter, aid, and comfort. Across the world, momentum for humanitarian aid is growing and countries like Canada, farther away from the conflict, are preparing to welcome Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression. Vigils are being held across the globe, in support and solidarity for the Ukrainian people. Even within Russia, citizens are taking the extraordinary measure of protesting the actions of their government, in spite of the fact that protest is not legal in Russia, meaning they face arrest or worse for their choice to speak out.

Rest assured, your Métis government - the National government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis - will not stand idle during this time. We will take decisive action to support our Ukrainian friends and help those who have had to flee their homes. We are exploring ways to provide humanitarian support to Ukraine and her people, and I will share our plan with all Citizens once we have determined the best path forward.

In the meantime, I urge all Citizens to continue looking after loved ones, neighbours, and vulnerable community members - simple but heartfelt acts of service may feel small, but they make a significant difference in the lives of the people around us and can provide us all with a sense of comfort.

For Ukrainian citizens, refugees, and those Canadians and Manitobans who have family under threat in Ukraine, you are all in my prayers, as are all Red River Métis Citizens who have been caused to grieve.


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