President's Message - May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

I hope you all celebrated Victoria Day safely, and took time during the long weekend for yourselves and family. Often, we forget what we are truly celebrating on Victoria Day.

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901. Under Queen Victoria, the new nation of Canada was born. As we know, Canada functioned under a Monarchy for many years, including while we negotiated the Manitoba Act with the Dominion of Canada, which not only had to pass through the House of Commons in Canada, but also had to be given Royal Assent in the United Kingdom. Our agreements to this day are with the Crown of Canada, as represented by the always-shifting Cabinet of elected representatives.

When our ancestors resisted Canada in 1885 in the North-West, we were concerned because the Manitoba Act was not fairly implemented by the Crown of Canada, and we cannot forget that it was the Crown that sent reinforcements to suppress our ancestors.

In honour of this longtime monarch, Canadians from coast to coast celebrate Victoria Day every May. The story of the Metis Nation is undeniably tied to the Crown and Queen Victoria. When we honour Queen Victoria and Canada's sovereign, we should not do so with disdain. We cannot change the history of our Nation, nor should we want to. We should want to embrace it as it happened and be thankful that we are where we are today.

For many, this holiday is not about Queen Victoria or the monarchy; rather, it is a symbol for the beginning of summer gatherings and the first fair-weathered weekend to get together with friends and family. Yet we cannot forget the true historic significance of this occasion.

Typically, it is around this time that the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) finalizes events and prepares to celebrate the good weather with all our brothers and sisters. This year we had major plans to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Manitoba Metis bringing our beautiful province into Confederation. Though we postponed many of our events, rest assured sometime in the near future we will come together and celebrate as one large family.

Until then, we have been trying to find ways to celebrate this historic year while maintaining social distancing protocols. As many of you may know, the MMF recently purchased the historic Bank of Montreal location at the corner of Portage & Main. As previously noted, the BMO building is the future home of the Metis Nation Heritage Centre. This purchase is significant as it not only gives us possession of the most famous building in Manitoba, but it also signifies our return home to the economic hub of Manitoba.

Similar to how many forget the history of Victoria Day, many also forget the role the Metis Nation played in the Red River Settlement, now Winnipeg.

In the 19th Century, the Red River Settlement was known as the major economic hub of Western Canada. All Red River Cart trails led to the Red River Settlement. Two major rivers flowed through the Settlement from north to south, and from east to west. Our Metis ancestors were the primary contributors to this economic success in the region. We lived here, hunted here, and traded here for generations.

The Metis were active in the economy at all levels. If it weren't for this economic success, many of the major banks and other industries would not have established locations in Winnipeg. Though there are people out there who will deny it, such as Premier Brian Pallister who failed to mention the Metis in his Manitoba 150 speech, the Metis played a pivotal role in shaping the economic and political landscape of the Red River Settlement.

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to impact economies across the world, we feel that now is the time for the Manitoba Metis to once again become drivers of the Manitoba economy. Recently, the MMF announced that we are looking to create up to 700 job opportunities across the province and help lift the economy of Manitoba out of troubled waters.

The primary way we plan to create these new jobs is through the funding of infrastructure projects and maintaining these projects. We are in the process of constructing a senior housing facility in St. Laurent, as well as daycares, office complexes, and houses across the province. These projects will create jobs at all stages, from planning to construction and finally the day-to-day maintenance of the program and facility. We will also be employing many contractors and labourers for our Housing department's new home repair program, the Home Enhancement Loan Program (H.E.L.P.).

These investments will be made carefully. It is the goal of the MMF to spend as much money in ways that have direct, positive impacts on Metis entrepreneurs across the province. I encourage all Metis Citizens to do the same.

It is important to remember that the dollar of a person in poverty is worth the same as the dollar of a billionaire. Whether purchasing a loaf of bread or buying the tools for a landscaping project, all Citizens should try and keep their money within the Manitoba Metis Community.

I encourage you to keep checking our website for updates every day. Our Red River Cart Adventures has taken off, with shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am. We've also added a Did You Know? show to the programming for Sundays at 10 am. And don't forget to tune in to The Beat Goes On, Thursdays at 7 pm and Saturdays at 2 pm.

We are continuing to offer support to Metis Citizens, including the successful hamper program. Last week, MMF Cabinet passed a resolution that approved a $100,000 loan to be sent to the Alberta Metis Federation to help assemble hampers for the Metis families in Northern Alberta. The Métis Nation of Alberta turned their back on these families and the MMF could not stand by in good conscience and allow proud Citizens of the Metis Nation to be left behind.

As the province continues to lift pandemic restrictions, please ensure that you and those around you continue to practice social distancing protocols. There are many ways to continue gathering in small groups while remaining safe. One option may include having your loved ones gather outside, while obeying the COVID-19 restrictions.

We have come so far in the battle against COVID-19. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by this crisis, especially to our Metis brothers and sisters in Saskatchewan who are continuing to recover from this deadly virus.

I am proud of the Manitoba Metis Government and our Citizens for making the sacrifice and adhering to social distancing protocols. We have all played a critical role in flattening the curve in Manitoba.



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