President's Message - May 12, 2021

May 12, 2021

One of the things I am always thinking about is how to secure the future for our Nation's Youth. Your Métis Government offers a number of programs that are geared toward Youth, including summer camps, employment training, and our $1-million fund for structured and professional sports development.

Why are our Youth not on the baseball diamonds in our communities? We know they're not on the basketball courts, playing volleyball, badminton, football, or involved in other athletics. That's because there are no structures in place to organize these sports, no equipment, and in some cases, no fields or courts to play on. We need to change this and create opportunities in sports for our Youth. This $1-million fund is only the beginning and is one of a number of programs and services we're offering for our Nation's Youth.

Support for post-secondary education

It still amazes me how far your Métis Government has come in our ability to support education for our Citizens. We know education is important, not just for our Youth, but also their families. The reality is that some of our Métis families are making just enough money to pay the bills, with no way to help their children plan for their future. That's why we want to share this burden and take the pressure off these families, helping them deliver more for their children and ensuring they have a stronger and brighter future. We know that's what every Métis parent wants for their children. That's why I truly believe some of our most important programs are the ones that support education.

I've often said that a person can be stripped of their job, home, land, and money, but the one thing that no one can ever take away is education. Your education is always yours once you have it.

Your Métis Government established the first-ever Métis-specific post-secondary Scholarship and Bursary Endowment Fund in 1999. The Louis Riel Bursary program continues to support Métis students today, with the endowment fund now worth more than $25 million.

In the 2020-21 school year, between Metis Employment and Training and the Louis Riel Bursary program, we awarded 633 bursaries to Métis students attending universities in Manitoba, with an amount totalling more than $3 million. This is a significant increase from the last school year.

Minister Joan Ledoux and I are also working on creating a new endowment fund, which we will announce shortly. I can share that it will provide an additional $10 million for students, bringing our total endowment fund amount to $35 million. We'll have more details to share on this soon.

In 2020-21, we had our second intake for our Post-Secondary Education Support Program, which resulted in awarding support for 847 Métis students, to a total of $4.2 million. The majority of these students are women - 588, to be exact. Most of these students are pursuing undergraduate, professional, master's, and doctoral degrees at one of Manitoba's universities. They come from all parts of our province, from the Thompson Region to the Interlake, from the Northwest to the Southeast.

We expect this program to grow every year, since we have committed to providing $5,000 to each student for each academic year.

The number of students going into and receiving support for their post-secondary education is one of the things I'm most proud of - that I think Louis Riel would be proud of - is seeing our Nation gain strength, knowledge, and expertise each year these students pursue higher learning. It's our hope that many of these students will graduate with a passion for helping their Nation, coming to work for the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) or contributing to our Nation's prosperity in other ways.

I thank Minister Ledoux and Minister John Fleury for their work on this important funding for students.

Métis Harvesting rights

Between the Desautel case in British Columbia and the Poitras and Boyer case in Saskatchewan, harvesting rights have been in the news lately.

As we know, our traditional lifestyle was a very mobile one. At the time when these traditions were freely practiced, the Homeland of the Métis Nation extended well into what is now called the United States of America, into parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana.

The Desautel legal victory recognized traditional harvesting territory that includes parts of Canada for a man belonging to the Arrow Lakes Band of Washington state in the United States of America. This victory reflects the changing attitudes of courts, shifting away from colonial thinking as applied to traditional harvesting rights. While a government may believe that the lines now drawn on maps are the only truth when it comes to ownership of territory, they should not forget that Indigenous peoples were here on this land, using its resources, before those lines - whether international or provincial - were ever drawn. The legal system of Canada is finally recognizing and reconciling with that truth.

The MMF sees this as a positive step forward in recognizing Indigenous traditions and rights.

Meanwhile in Saskatchewan, Warren Boyer and Oliver Poitras have been found guilty of hunting unlawfully in the area around Meadow Lake and have argued that they, as modern-day Métis people whose ancestors were part of Métis Nation, should be able to harvest anywhere within the Homeland.

As we did in the Desautel case, the MMF and the Métis National Council asked for intervenor standing on this court case, meaning that we were asking for the right to be heard as parties who will be affected by the outcomes of the court decision. In spite of strong opposition from the Saskatchewan Crown, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently granted us this status.

By joining this case in Saskatchewan, we're joining the fight against any laws that require Métis Harvesters to live in the same part of our ancestral territory they are harvesting from.

While we await the decision in the Poitras and Boyer case, know that we will continue to support Citizens practicing traditional harvesting activities in a sustainable, conservation-minded way.

Seeing the struggle of the Métis people in Saskatchewan as they try to achieve their harvesting rights acre by acre, I hope our Citizens take comfort in the fact that we did not have to take on the same battle of acres in Manitoba.

Vaccines

Our Métis Nation has done so well protecting and looking after each other, our Elders, and vulnerable Citizens. The good news - after months of pushing and advocating - is that we're finally getting more vaccines into our hands, so we can start getting them into your arms. We have our first 100 appointments booked at the MEDOCare Pharmacy for our frontline staff and their families, so your Métis Government can keep working hard for you. We'll be sharing more information about how you can get the vaccine from us shortly.

Now that Manitoba is allowing all Indigenous peoples 18 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Citizens can also choose to book an appointment at supersites, pop-up clinics, or urban Indigenous clinics by calling the province's toll-free line at 1-844-626-8222 (1-844-MAN-VACC) to book appointments. Daily hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can also book online at https://protectmb.ca.

With the recent news that Health Canada has approved use of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and up, we're hoping that Manitoba will follow Alberta and start opening up vaccinations for Youth. We look forward to including them in our vaccine rollout at the MMF as soon as possible.

I strongly encourage all Citizens to get the vaccine as soon as they're able. If you have any concerns about the safety of the vaccine or your personal circumstances, you should speak with your doctor first.

I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve.

 


View More News

B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

^ * ( &

Beyond Borders
Unite Interactive