President's Message - November 16, 2023

November 16, 2023

November 8th is a special day in Canada - it's a day where we recognize and honour Red River Métis Veterans, and all Indigenous Veterans, who stood proud and offered their service in defence of democracy. They signed up for duty, knowing that they might be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice for people they did not know, and for a country that had done them great harm throughout history.

The personal integrity, fighting spirit, and sense of honour required of our Citizens to volunteer their lives under these circumstances cannot be understated. It must be respected. This is why it's vital that we have a special day to honour Indigenous Veterans in this country. As Manitobans, we should have an even deeper sense of pride about this day, because our province was the first to begin recognizing the day in 1994.

It would be ideal if the world remembered the high cost of war so strongly that modern-day conflict did not exist. However, we know this is not true - global conflict is very real, and in some ways, seems to be growing. We must remember and honour our Veterans of the past and those serving now, with the knowledge in our hearts that we ourselves, or our children or grandchildren, may once again be called upon to go to a foreign country and fight in defence of the freedoms we enjoy today.

I commend our Red River Métis Government and Minister Shawn Nault for their work to honour our Red River Métis Veterans and all Indigenous Veterans during this year's Indigenous Veterans Day ceremony. I also commend the St. Laurent Local for their partnership at the grassroots level, ensuring communication and coordination between our government, the Legion, and the Rural Municipality. I am so proud to see that our Nation's Veterans are increasingly being honoured and recognized through memorial services, commemorations, and monuments. Those who attended our Indigenous Veterans Day service in St. Laurent would have seen 93 banners running all the way down Veterans Memorial Drive, all honouring local Veterans. I congratulate the Rural Municipality and the St. Laurent Legion #250 - the only Métis legion in Canada - for their work to make this initiative happen.

I know there are other initiatives happening all over Canada and the world, including the Indigenous Legacy Project, which honours our Veterans who were killed while fighting to liberate the Netherlands. I also thank the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association for their initiative to find, honour, and remember Indigenous Veterans and those who lost their lives. And of course, Selkirk residents and visitors will be familiar with the Dufferin Gang monument, which commemorates the 28 men and three women who enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII, who all lived on Dufferin Street in Selkirk.

Our Nation has a long memory, and we pride ourselves on knowing our history well. Because of this, I'm confident that there will be more and more events, books, and monuments honouring the sacrifices of our relatives and Ancestors, so that they, like our Nation, will never again be forgotten by this country. This is what I fought for over two decades to have remembered, and I am so proud to see that it is coming to life.

Citizens know that when I travel overseas, I look for churches. I spend time in prayer wherever I go, and often reflect on the sacrifices of our Veterans in these countries. I have also been privileged to visit the gravesites of our Veterans who were laid to rest in foreign soil, so far away from our Homeland and their families and descendants. But I want to assure our Citizens that the final resting places of our Veterans are being very well cared for in these countries. Their resting places are tended with such care and reverence, and respect for the sacrifices of our soldiers. I have even spoken with the people who care for the grounds, and you can see that they fully understand that they are caring for our loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their freedoms. While I know it is hard for families who cannot visit these fallen heroes on a regular basis, I also know they would be deeply moved by the care these gravesites still receive to this day.

I also thank all Canadians who have served or are serving in our military. I spent time in reflection and gratitude on Remembrance Day, thinking about all who laid down their lives in defence of democracy, or who came home damaged or broken because of what they saw and experienced during their time in armed conflict.

I thank all Red River Métis who answer the call to service, from the Victory of Frog Plain in 1816, all the way to more recent conflicts and peacekeeping activities. I also extend greetings to Colonel David Grebstad - our highest-ranking Red River Métis Citizen in the Canadian Armed Forces - for attending our second annual Indigenous Veterans Day event, and for his successful and dedicated career in Canada's military.

I also thank the Veterans in our Cabinet - John Fleury, Andrew Carrier, Jack Park, and Shawn Nault - for their service.

You are our heroes - today, tomorrow, and forever.

Until we gather again, 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.

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



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