President's Message - November 02, 2022

November 2, 2022

Recently, I was honoured to be invited to deliver a keynote speech at the World Indigenous Business Forum, which took place in Villavicencio, in the Republic of Colombia.

It is clear, through my many interactions with Indigenous leaders from all over the world, that no matter how far apart our communities are, nor how many cultural differences we may have, there are common values that are shared among all Indigenous Nations. We share a strong dedication to the land our Ancestors lived on, and to the stewardship and conservation of that land for generations to come. We cherish our families and our community, and across every Indigenous culture found in the world, there is a fundamental belief that what we have, what we earn from our lands and what we build and dream of, can only be successful if it is shared.

I expressed this fundamental connection to the representatives of the Indigenous Nations who attended the forum and listened to my words - people from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Canada. It was widely recognized as truth - when you are with Indigenous people, no matter where they come from, you are with family.

However, there is also a recognized truth that we are all suffering from the effects of colonization. Indigenous people live in poverty across the globe. Success stories do exist, and they are important to celebrate. But there is still too much poverty, too much suffering, too much displacement - and the only way to make change is to work together as a global family, to better each of our circumstances.

Make no mistake, our own people and our own Nation still have work to do to overcome the effects of colonization. Many of our Citizens still require help and support to achieve lasting security. That's why your Métis government will never stop expanding on the programs and services we offer. It's also why we continue to build toward long-term economic security, which will keep our programs and services vibrant, no matter what the changing political tides bring us.

That said, our Citizens know that we have achieved many great things in the past decades, and we have come a long way in rebuilding our economic engine.

We have helped build the global vision of the Indigenous family - the ability to govern ourselves, to create economic opportunity for our Nations, and to determine for ourselves who our partners in trade will be. This is an important part of what the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is about: the sovereignty of our Nations, and our right to self-determination.

We have been able to help our Colombian brothers and sisters develop the tools necessary to trade with us - in coffee, in panela (a kind of raw sugar), and in the making of our own Red River Métis sashes by expert weavers. We were able to supply them with protective equipment at the height of the pandemic. Over the last few years, we have also been able to help others, in Ukraine, in India, and within Canada.

Red River Métis Citizens take pride in our ability to help others, and our Elders are always clear that this is our way, and that this tradition must continue.

However, colonization has left its mark on some Indigenous communities - there are people who always want to have more for themselves.

Indigenous peoples need to remember that it was jealousy of what our people had that caused us to be robbed of our place - the bounty we enjoyed and the self-governance we achieved before Canada came to our Homeland. Settler governments wanted what we had, and they thought nothing of taking our land and our prosperity for themselves.

It is this kind of jealousy that threatened our nationhood in the beginning. It was the selflessness and sacrifice of our Elders that kept our Nation's flame alive during the dark times. We must work hard to honour our Elders' wisdom and ensure that jealousy does not threaten our nationhood ever again. It has no place in our culture or our Nation. Sharing is caring and we as Red River Métis are not jealous of each other or other Indigenous Nations.

Another impact of colonization is the creation of borders. Citizens know that we are increasingly moving away from the arbitrary constructs that are borders. We have been inviting our Citizens across Canada and the world to come home to us, the government of the Red River Métis, and our Citizens have been responding. This has been an important step in restoring our thinking to our beginnings, recognizing that our Homeland stretches across multiple boundaries, and that our nationhood and our kinship ties are not bound by these borders.

Equally, it is worth remembering that the Indigenous peoples across South, Central, and North America used to travel extensively. There were never any borders between us, and we traded freely with other Nations, even intermarrying or adopting from one another. This practice gave us strength, as it created understanding, built relationships, and enhanced our cultures and our traditions.

Just as we have done with our Citizens beyond borders, we must go back to our traditional thinking about our relationships with Indigenous peoples across the world. We must forget about colonial borders and boundaries, which were never of our own making. We must come together as Indigenous Nations, committed to supporting one another, to building relationships, and finding ways to create economic success for all.

It is only by being united in one voice that our own Nation has achieved opportunities for education, housing, and secure futures, while we honour our own traditions. By uniting internationally, we can help forge new pathways for all Indigenous Nations, ensuring the world hears the wisdom of our ancestors, and that we have all the means necessary to express and implement this wisdom.

This is the goal that we shared at the World Indigenous Business Forum in Colombia, and it is the goal we will continue to build toward as Indigenous Nations from across the planet who share the common values of unity and sharing.

I will continue to share our progress on this vision and goal with our Nation, as we work to strengthen our relationships with our extended kin.

I send my well wishes to Citizens who are honouring our traditions by harvesting from our Homeland to feed family and community. Stay safe and remember - your Red River Métis Government has your back.

Until we meet 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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