President's Message - May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to make it hard to connect with friends, family and community, we are all learning new ways to keep in touch and to share ideas and thoughts. While our first virtual Annual General Assembly was a success by all accounts, it cannot take the place of our in-person AGAs, where 3,000 or more of us gather to discuss and vote on important matters. We still hope to have an in-person Annual General Assembly this fall, if the health orders have changed and enough of us have been vaccinated.

In the meantime, because we can't get together and discuss important matters, and because it's important that we hear from you so we can represent your views and interests, we're going to be conducting surveys of our Citizens over the coming weeks and months. We'll be asking about the things that are on your mind: your worries, your needs and your thoughts on how supported you feel by not only your Métis Government, but our federal and provincial counterparts as well.

Our world has become increasingly digital, accelerated by the spread of COVID-19 and the need to maintain social distance. One of the outcomes of this digital world is an increased dependence on data. While I know that members of the Métis Community of Manitoba communicate regularly with each other and with your elected Métis officials, I also know there's a strong demand on us to show the data and statistics that support our knowledge of your needs and views.

When we are able to back up our knowledge and understanding of the issues affecting Métis farmers, ranchers, Harvesters, students and other segments of our population with data, we are able to prove that we are a strong community with shared purpose and perspective. The stronger we are and the more data we use to show that strength, the more we are able to influence the laws, regulations, and policies that affect our people. In effect, we can show who we are and what we stand for through the data we gather.

To ensure that the data that reflects our community views is well analyzed and presented, we are working with a third-party survey company, Probe Research Inc. Probe is a Manitoba-based company that specializes in public opinion surveys. If you receive a call or an email from Probe, you can be assured that we are actively guiding the survey questions and will ensure your information is kept confidential.

On behalf of your Métis Government, I ask that if you are sent a survey or receive a phone call about a survey, that you take the 10 to 15 minutes required to fill it out. Your answers matter to us and will be part of how we shape and share our Métis agenda in the future.

Being able to share who Métis Nation is and what we stand for has never been more important than it is today. There are a growing number of people in Ontario and parts east who are self-identifying as Métis. What we know for a fact is that they are not us. Whatever they choose to call themselves due to a single or a small handful of Indigenous ancestors, they can't possibly understand what Métis Nation has been through since our birth as a nation. They don't understand the direct impact of colonialism on our people and the reign of terror that chased us from our land. They can't understand how we still feel those effects today. They don't know our fiddle music, our beadwork, our culture or our families: all the things that connect us together as a Nation. In short, they simply are not us. I often think about how many people there are in Canada who can trace their ancestry back to one or two Indigenous people - those individuals must number in the millions by now. What would happen to Louis Riel's little nation if our voices were drowned out by these millions?

Your Métis Government will never stop working hard to make sure our voice is heard and represented at the provincial, national and international levels. If that means we must adapt to the demands for data to show our united perspective, that's what we will do.

I will share more details about this survey and the results as the summer progresses. In the meantime, 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, of course you should speak with your doctor first. Let's all do our part to protect our Elders, our families and our communities and keep each other safe.

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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