President's Message - November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

"We must seek to preserve the existence of our own people. We must not by our own act allow ourselves to be swamped. If the day comes when that is done, it must be by no act of ours."

"Pray that God may preserve the little Métis Nation and cause it to grow . . .and remain faithful to its mission. During the five years that I must pass in exile, I have only this to say to the Métis: Remain Métis, become more Métis than ever."

- Louis Riel

From the days of Cuthbert Grant and Louis Riel to today, the Red River Métis have fought vigorously to preserve and protect our identity and independence, earning the name Otipemisiwak - the people who own themselves. It's who we are and what we stand for. We have always known we can accomplish anything, as long as we remain united.

When Louis Riel and John Bruce informed MacDougall that he could not enter the Northwest - our Homeland - without permission in October of 1869, they made the declaration as the national government of the Red River Métis.

Today, the Manitoba Métis Federation is the democratic government and national voice of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, which is the origin, root, and core of the Métis Nation. Our ancestors negotiated Canada's entry into the Northwest, and Manitoba's entry into Confederation. We remain committed to advancing our work to meet the needs of your family and your community while we advance our Nation.

Indigenous Veterans Day

November 8 is the day Canada honours Aboriginal - or Indigenous - veterans, for their legacy and the sacrifices they made for the rights we have today.

I'm not just talking about World War I and II, or the Korean War, or the many peacekeeping missions Canadian and Red River Métis soldiers have participated in.

It's a fact that the Red River Métis of the Northwest have been fighting for Canada - for our ideals and values - before there was even a Canada.

Let me take you all the way back to 1816 and the Battle of Seven Oaks, or what we call the Victory of Frog Plain. This was a fight for free trade - for the rights of our Nation to trade our goods and services with whomever we chose. It was part of what was often called the Pemmican Wars.

This was a significant battle - one that demonstrated the fierce devotion of the Red River Métis to the defence of democratic values, including the right of free trade.

In 1869 our leaders - including Louis Riel - seized Upper Fort Garry, laid down a roadblock, and established itself as the government of the Red River Settlement, and the national government of the Red River Métis, to defend the right to have representation that reflected the needs of the people.

In 1885, again, our people went to war in the Northwest Resistance, where we were outnumbered and outgunned, but still we fought to defend our values, our families, and our way of life. From Duck Lake to Fish Creek to Batoche, we used every scrap of metal we could find to make bullets to keep our fight going. We lost many great heroes. This loss, and this remembrance, still echoes across our Nation.

Those who gave their lives during these early battles deserve recognition as war veterans, and as champions of democracy.

So, on Indigenous Veterans Day, we not only honour our veterans who went to foreign soil to defend the democratic rights and freedoms of others, we also honour our veterans who gave their lives to protect our rights and freedoms.

It is in their name that we continue to fight to this day. Of course, we've moved on from bullets and now have most of our battles in the courts. But through this work, we honour what our ancestors fought for and represented: Our rights in the new Canada, our identity as the Métis Nation of the Red River and the Northwest, and our passion to defend all against tyranny and evil, no matter where in the world this fight took place.

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

Remembrance Day

November 11 is the day where Canada and the Red River Métis honour all war veterans of all conflicts for their sacrifices and their legacy.

On November 11, I hope all Citizens take a moment to reflect on the incredible decades we've experienced without global conflict, without sending our loved ones to fight and possibly lose their lives on foreign soil. I hope people reflect on why we have the privilege of peace today.

We know this privilege is due to the sacrifices made by many, many Canadians and the Métis of the Red River and the Northwest in global conflicts over the years. What we have today - the freedoms and rights we enjoy - we owe to these heroes.

We honour all war veterans, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, along with the families who experienced these painful losses. Those who survived often came home broken, continuing to suffer the aftermath of their time spent in service.

For the Métis Veterans of World War II, when they came home, Canada simply forgot them. I made it my mission decades ago to ensure that these veterans - their heroism, their suffering, and their resilience - were recognized and supported after they were abandoned.

In 2019, Canada issued a formal apology to our WWII Métis Veterans. The apology was followed by an agreement and a commitment to support us as we launched the Métis Veterans Legacy Program in 2020, to commemorate our heroes and provide them with the head start they did not receive when they came home.

As of today, Recognition Payments have been given to 30 living Métis Veterans, along with 37 spouses and 19 children of deceased Métis Veterans. We continue to search for Métis Veterans and their families so we can honour our heroes.

If anyone has questions about the military contributions of the Red River Métis, knows a World War II Métis Veteran, or has a vision for commemorating our World War II veterans, reach out to us:

Telephone: 1-800-532-1993
Email: veteran.info@Metisveterans.ca
Website: www.Metisveterans.ca

It's so important that our younger generations - those who have grown up only knowing a world without global conflict - learn about those who gave so much for our security. I encourage all Elders in our communities to take some time in the next few weeks to speak to our Youth about their memories of war times, or of family members who went to war. It is only by passing this important knowledge to our Youth that we can hope they'll carry on the tradition of honouring our war veterans.

I offer my prayers to all our Citizens, friends, and neighbours, and my deepest condolences to those who have been caused to grieve - especially those who have lost loved ones due to military conflict, who will find this time of year particularly hard.

 


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