President's Message - March 31, 2022

March 31, 2022

I'm so proud of the great success of our AGA last weekend. It was the first time we have ever done a combined virtual/in-person assembly, but likely not the last time. With a total of 1,700 hits for the entertainment, and 170 hours of viewing time, along with 2,000 in-person attendees and 1,230 registered online participants, it's clear that our Citizens appreciate having a choice about the way in which they participate in our great democratic traditions.

Before anything else, I want to thank the Cabinet, staff and volunteers, along with the Local and Regional representatives who worked so hard and put in so many hours to ensure that every Citizen who wanted to participate in our democracy had the ability to do so.

The event was attended by a long list of dignitaries, NDP leader Wab Kinew, Manitoba Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont; Scott McMurchy, RCMP D Division Superintendent; Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, and Premier Heather Stefanson, who brought greetings on behalf of the province. It was stunning to see our Citizens fill the main hall for our Assembly to the point of standing room only to hear the greetings shared by our dignitaries and my State of the Nation address.

The Saturday night entertainment had a lot of viewers, both in person and virtually. That's no surprise, considering the talent we had on display. We had performances that included the Norman Chief Memorial Dancers, the D-Town Steppers and the Kinew Jiggers. Of course, it wouldn't be a Red River Métis event without fiddlers like Michael Audette, Eldon Campbell, Colton McLeod and Morgan Ginther.

We also had many great vocalists and performers that included Ray St. Germain, Holly Vee, James Dutiaume, Scott Fehr, Kicking up Dust and many others. Of course, many performers benefitted from being backed by our AGA House Band of Darren Lavalle, Paul Kelly, Don Ranville, Randy Hiebert and Ken Campbell.

Along with food, music, laughter and community connection, we advanced our constitution through a series of resolutions designed to update our constitution and reflect our contemporary governance structure, along with our status as the national government of the Red River Métis. Delegates also heard about our progress with our ownership in taking back responsibility for our children in care, our housing and education supports and our robust progress toward strong economic development.

If there is one message that I would like Citizens to take from this AGA, it's that we are quickly growing our ability to provide economic solutions to modern-day infrastructure and housing challenges. It can be frustrating to see that many people outside of our community still see us as a social challenge that needs to be fixed, but I know that we are gaining such momentum that it won't be long before they recognize that we are not a social problem - we are an economic solution.

To date, we have secured investment of close to $1 billion dollars in our nation for programs and services for Citizens from our federal partners through our government-to-government relationship. Programs that flow from these funds range from housing programs to post-secondary education funding, home repair and support for Red River Métis entrepreneurs. In addition to that, you as a Citizen of our Nation have over 140 properties with 800 acres of land, and $40-50 million in capital assets.

Along with opening daycares, with a target of 15 across the province, our ongoing economic development projects also include: a $12-million Fort Street boutique hotel and spa; 350 acres of land on Breezy Point Road, Lake Manitoba Resort in St. Laurent; a Red River Métis Youth Camp in the Duck Mountains and a $10.3 million dollar investment in The Pas for housing and community space, with more announcements coming all the time, you can begin to get a sense of how vast and varied our investments are.

Not only did our Assembly hear about our economic investments into the province we created, the very act of gathering in Assembly generated over half a million dollars of investment into the local economy through hiring contractors, hotel and catering bookings and additional purchases. I hope you are as proud as I am that we are such a strong presence in our province, both economically and culturally.

Along with advancing our constitution and sharing our progress toward becoming the economic engine of the west as we once were, the MMF made a key announcement that advances our Métis-specific healthcare agenda, through the creation of mobile nursing units. These vans can travel to our smaller and more remote villages, where access to healthcare supports can be challenging.

Richard Genaille, MMF Minister of Sports & Youth, also announced a partnership with the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Council (MASRC) for a National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Winnipeg in May 2023. He presented at $50,000 cheque to MASRC Executive Director Mel Whitesell that will go towards the championship.

The Assembly was also very supportive of our announced upcoming trip to Rome. Citizens greeted the announcement with support and pride, knowing that the Red River Métis will have a day set aside with the Pope, which reflects our status as the national government of the Red River Métis. Of course, I will brief you about the experience upon our return, but all Citizens will be able to follow along on our pilgrimage through daily updates on our website.

Those who missed the Assembly and are interested in watching the proceedings can find the recording on our MMF YouTube channel.

With the number of youth fully and actively participating in our youth council, in our Locals and at our Assembly, I have a great sense of pride and confidence that we are heading toward a future as strong as our present. Together, we are truly finding our place in Canada's confederation and making history as the Red River Métis Nation.

Until we can gather 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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