President's Message - October 05, 2022

October 5, 2022

With the change of season well underway, and the trees showing their beautiful fall colours, our thoughts naturally turn to the harvest and the bounty of our Homeland.

I hope everyone will have chance to enjoy good food and good company over the Thanksgiving long weekend. Traditions like gathering on holidays to feast with loved ones are important; they remind us of the past, and give us space to think of those who are no longer with us to gather at the table. It is a gift to be able to remember the good times we shared, while making new memories and celebrating our ties with our family, friends, and community. Traditions form an important part of what I always say, which is that you need to know where you come from in order to know where you're going.

Another great tradition is our Annual General Assembly (AGA), which allows us to appreciate the continuity of our Nation. Without a doubt, our AGA is the largest Indigenous gathering in Canada, drawing thousands of both in-person and virtual participants, including our Citizens beyond borders.

While our AGAs have always been large, there can be no doubt we are seeing greater participation each year because of the revival of our culture and the renewed interest in our rich democratic traditions. This revival and renewal are not accidental - they are the result of many years of hard work by many patriots, each ensuring that our knowledge, our community, and our history continue to be remembered. This work was not always easy. There was a time when no one was interested in our Nation or righting the wrongs that were done to us. It was an act of pure courage and determination to insist that we be recognized, and heard, and respected.

The debt we owe these fierce fighters runs deep. Without those who persisted at the Local level, those who educated themselves so they could defend and represent our Nation, and those who refused to surrender their traditional skills like beading and trapping - we would have had nothing to hang onto. Honouring the efforts of these patriots and keeping the flame of our nationhood alive are responsibilities I have keenly felt since I was a teenager first engaging in Red River Métis politics, and it has fuelled everything I have done as your President.

The strength of our Nation is never more visible than at our AGAs. It is an honour to see all our Elders and the many matriarchs proudly representing the fierce fighters who came before them. It is a privilege to see their pride in their children and grandchildren, who they have guided to become the next generations of patriots. This transfer of knowledge and the instilling of pride from one generation to the next is the very fabric of our Nation being woven, ensuring the long-term well-being of our culture.

This transfer of knowledge and pride is always top of mind for your Red River Métis Government, and, like our Ancestors, we are always ready and willing to innovate to support what matters to us.

One innovation you will see at the AGA is the Red River Festival happening on the Saturday night. Of course, there will be face-painting, colouring, and games for the children in attendance, but there will also be moose and duck calling competitions and a jigging competition, to reflect our traditional activities.

On the Sunday of our AGA, in recognition of our history of preserving what we grow on the land, we will hold the Second Annual Pickler Classic, which started off as a small competition amongst a few friends last year, but was so well-received it has become a national competition this year. I look forward to seeing Citizens challenge one another's pickling skills, with the winner receiving full bragging rights for the year.

Of course, there is important business to attend to at our AGA, and I know our Citizens will be there to hear and understand what's happening within our government, and to express their will on these important matters. This is fundamental to our democracy and our community. But I'm happy that we're able to introduce more elements of our historic and cultural practices to our AGA, so it continues to grow as a celebration of who we are.

I look forward to seeing many of you there, as representatives of the many Red River Métis communities that dot our Homeland. I look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas with you, along with food and laughter. But most of all, I look forward to affirming the connections that make us a Nation, as well as a community.

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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