President's Message - March 16, 2022

March 16, 2022

This is the last President's Message that will be published in advance of our Annual General Assembly, happening March 25, 26, and 27 at the Assiniboia Downs. It's been two long years since we've been able to gather in any numbers, and I'm excited about seeing the Citizens who are able to come out and spend time with us as we advance our Nation.

The anticipation of getting together at the end of this month has caused me to think about the great tradition that is our Annual General Assembly and how we have continued to evolve our democracy.

For 82 years after the reign of terror, there was very little in the way of formal governance structure in our Nation. There were a few Locals that kept going in their communities, united by common interests, but nothing that brought these viewpoints together from a province-wide perspective.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) was born on December 28, 1967, through provincial incorporation. We were required by the federal government to do this in order to receive funding and begin developing a national governance structure. We called ourselves a federation because we were a group of Locals that each operated under their own authority, advancing the interests of the communities they represented. Elections were conducted by votes from three Local delegates or their proxies. Delegates chose individuals they knew and trusted - individuals who had been leaders at the Local level, and on the board for the MMF. People with experience and knowledge.

This is not unlike how we governed ourselves during the great, multi-family bison hunts we used to undertake, where we elected Captains of the Hunt every morning. Only the most experienced and respected individuals were chosen to lead the hunt that was so vital to our lives. Knowledge, experience, and a demonstrated commitment to the well-being of the group were required.

In 1981, Don McIvor was the last president elected by the delegate system. The MMF then moved to a province-wide electoral system, with one vote for one Citizen.

However, the evolution to a one vote for one Citizen method did not change the focus on having strong and trusted leadership. Our constitution has always reflected our continued focus on grassroots knowledge and experience.

We have never wavered from our commitment to our traditions. While the mechanics of our governance may have evolved into formal and legal language, the principles behind them have remained as they were since we followed the great bison herds.

The strength of our constitution and by-laws today is one of the reasons why we have the first Métis self-governance recognition agreement in Canada, which we signed on July 6 of 2021. It's the affirmation that we are the national government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, and that our governance is there for all Red River Métis, no matter where they live.

Locals will always be the guides of our work. They will never lose their importance to our ways or our government.

So while our Annual General Assembly is a good time to connect with each other, hear great music, and share laughter, it's also a sign of our continued devotion to our democratic traditions and our connection to our grassroots. I look forward to everything that the Assembly means, including hearing directly from Citizens about their needs and their vision for the future.



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