President's Message - May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

As Citizens know, your Métis Government has been hard at work planning for the upcoming MMF elections.

Along with his team, David Gray, Chief Electoral Officer for the MMF, was ready to run a full election cycle, with 75 polling stations across all seven regions, advance voting dates, and Deputy Returning Officers appointed.

He and his team also introduced some new innovations to our election process, which included accommodating mail-in ballots, ensuring that Citizens who live outside of the province or in remote communities would also have their say in determining who leads our government.

What no one anticipated is the historic and unprecedented mass acclamation and re-election of all officials. All incumbent members of MMF Cabinet will be returning, having been acclaimed in all seven regions.

The exception is John Parenteau of the Northwest Region, who opted not to run, paving the way for Peter Fleming to replace him by acclamation. John has worked hard for Citizens for many years, leading the way in the Fisheries portfolio, and knows we will all honour his important contributions to advancing our Nation. We will miss John's strong presence within our government, but we know that the Northwest Region will continue to thrive in the capable hands of their leadership team.

Your Métis government, including Cabinet, regional representatives, Locals, and staff, all know the hard work that's been put in behind the scenes to accomplish the many great things we're achieving on behalf of Citizens, but this historic acclamation tells us our Citizens are seeing the results, too. I believe this is why we are witnessing this unprecedented and historic acclamation across every region.

I have spoken with many of the returning Cabinet members, and I know we are all incredibly moved by this demonstration of your faith, and your belief in the direction we have taken our Nation and our government.

From each and every one of us, to all Citizens, I say thank you. We are honoured by your belief in our ability to make your lives better. Know that I, as your President, along with your Métis Government, including Cabinet, will continue to work tirelessly to advance our Nation and find our rightful place in Canada's Confederation.

Not since 1967, when our Constitution was formalized, have we seen an acclamation like this. I have always maintained that it is vital for our Citizens to be confident that their elected officials have the necessary experience and demonstrated commitment to the well-being of our Nation. This is the legacy of our people, our transparent political system that stems back to the Buffalo Hunts in the 1800s, all the way through to 1967 and today.

Securing the future for our Nation

Along with democratic elections guided by the will of the people, another pillar of our democracy is our Annual General Assembly. At our assembly in March of this year, we updated the constitution to reflect some of the changes we've experienced in the last year, including referring to ourselves as the Red River Métis, which is a return to our historical roots.

It's worth remembering that the name "Red River Métis" is not in reference to where we live, or even where we lived back in Louis Riel's time. Like the term "Manitoba Métis," which is a nod to our role in the formation of Manitoba, the name Red River Métis speaks to our history and our beginnings, not just our geographic location. We live everywhere in the world, but we know many of our Citizens are still in the Prairies, in our Homeland, where our Nation was born. This was affirmed by our July 6, 2021 signing of our Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement with Canada, where the boundaries were removed.

This is my third acclamation and my 8th term as your elected President. Because I have been working on behalf of our Nation for a long time, I know that everything we do today creates greater strength for all of us today, and for the future. It is critical that we leave a legacy for future generations and give our Youth the opportunities we did not have. When we depart from our roles, we want to ensure that our Nation is stronger and better than it was.

This has been a priority since I first took office in 1997. At the time, the land claim was completely inactive. Citizens have heard me speak about my commitment to reviving the land claim and putting it in motion again, but what might be forgotten is the tremendous commitment of many people that was required to kickstart the court case. There was a group of patriots who were dedicated to making it happen, regardless of the effort and personal sacrifice required. Together, we raised $6 million to rejuvenate our land claim case. The money we used to reach the historic 2013 land claim case victory did not come from any other level of government, it came from Citizens - those who gave us everything they had and those who donated what they could to our fundraising efforts. The money was raised by individuals who mortgaged their homes, performed hard manual labour and odd jobs, and fundraised for dollars and cents at a time.

I have never seen the victory in the land claim case as a personal accomplishment, but as a collective accomplishment of the hardworking, passionate people who made these sacrifices on behalf of us all - it was our money and our land claim, and today, we have every right to the proceeds of these efforts. Make no mistake, this is our case and we won it based on hard work, dedication, and our deep connection to the Red River Settlement, righting the wrong done to our ancestors. I still think often of my late brother, Elbert Chartrand, who was the Minister of Finance at the time, and led the charge for this work. Our Cabinet of today stands on his shoulders and the shoulders of all of the leaders who came before us, just as we will be the shoulders for future leaders to stand on.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to bringing our land claim settlement to completion on his watch, and with this new mandate from our Citizens, there's nothing that can stand in the way of our efforts to achieve our settlement.

What was robbed from our Nation at the formation of Manitoba will come back to our children and our grandchildren, and all those in our Nation who are still struggling to recover from the intergenerational legacy of harm and poverty that was left to us.

Next steps

After settling our land claim, our next task as a Nation is the development and signing of our modern-day treaty with Canada. Don't let the word treaty confuse you. This is recognition of the Red River Métis by Canada in the modern era, with a modern-day treaty. Our work on a modern-day treaty is the next step in revitalizing our rightful place in Canada's Confederation, enshrined in the constitution and reinforced by legislation. It will help us weather any political storms that arise from changing political leadership in Canada, secure in our own ability to govern ourselves. It will pave the way for continued nation-to-nation, government-to-government dialogue on taxation, fiscal transfers, and law-making, all with the legal backing of our inherent right to self-government.

You have also heard me talk about our government beyond the borders of Manitoba, reinforced by our 2021 agreement with Canada. You have also read about our plan to include these Citizens in the voting process, through mail-in ballots. These are not isolated activities. Your Cabinet and I have agreed that we must begin to offer programs and services to these Citizens. To support this, over the next few months we will be sending a commission to meet with our Citizens outside of Manitoba and hear from the thousands upon thousands of people who are being welcomed home to our Nation and obtaining their Citizenship with the only true government of the Red River Métis, the MMF.

The commission team is reaching out to our Citizens outside of Manitoba now, to let them know when we will be in their area and that we're coming to listen. I look forward to the results of this commission's work, learning what priorities these Citizens have, and taking action on them.

Building on our success

We've been incredibly successful in advancing our people's needs within Manitoba, through critical programs and services. We offer funds for the post-secondary education of all our Youth, which includes our kids in care, who have won a recent court case that will see funds restored to them to secure their futures. We will also continue to focus on a preventative approach to having kids in the system, with a focus on keeping them close to their communities.

In the Housing portfolio, led by Minister Will Goodon, we are offering both a first-time homebuyer's program and a home repair program to help families continue to build on the financial legacy they can bring to their children - we are already building on the infrastructure and well-being of 2,000 families. We are also building affordable housing for seniors, along with multi-family homes and apartments. We are offering significant benefits to our seniors and Elders through our 55+ prescription drug program, our prescription eyecare program, and our hamper, wood, and snow shoveling services.

We continue to expand our ability to provide healthcare supports for all our Citizens, with our mobile nursing vans, a Ronald McDonald style facility for Citizens travelling to Winnipeg for medical care, and new medical clinics that we expect to start opening soon.

Truly, we could fill this entire newspaper with all the activities we are undertaking on behalf of our Nation. Citizens outside of Manitoba are aware of some of this, but we look forward to bringing these supports to them and helping them learn more about how their Métis Government is prepared to improve their lives.

I would like to extend our thanks to David Gray and his team for their extraordinary efforts to make sure that, if an election was required, our Citizens would have access to their democratic right to vote for their representation. I also thank our Locals and executives, who have believed in our government and our vision, and showed their confidence in powerful ways.

In the short term, we will proceed with Cabinet appointments and make all the necessary arrangements with Lieutenant-Governor Janice Filmon for our swearing in ceremony. Rest assured that we will continue to keep you informed of these activities, as we keep you aware of all our activities. Citizens deserve a transparent and accountable government, and we will make sure this is what you continue to receive.

In closing, let me once again thank every one of you who continue to believe in my leadership and the leadership of our cabinet. With your support, we'll continue building toward a stronger and brighter future for our Nation.

Let's Build Our Next Steps Together.

 

Meeqwetch,

 


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