President's Message - October 21, 2020

October 21, 2020

These past couple of weeks have once again been very busy for your Métis Government. We have been preparing to deliver another wave of COVID support as cases continue to rise in Manitoba and we have been preparing for a historic moose harvest in the coming weeks that will see eligible and registered Harvesting Parties go into the Porcupine and Duck Mountains to provide food for their families, Community, and most importantly our Elders.

Recently, Manitoba opened the 42nd Legislative Assembly and Brian Pallister delivered his Throne Speech that provided a vision for Manitoba. In the speech, Pallister noted that we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Manitoba becoming a province but failed to mention the Métis Nation and Riel or our creation of Manitoba.

We are not surprised, as Pallister continues to carry out his public crusade against the Manitoba Métis. The Métis, led by Louis Riel, are the Founders of this province and recognized in the Supreme Court of Canada as Canada's negotiating partner in Confederation. Omitting us from his speech intentionally disrespects our Nation and is an attempt to disregard and undermine our contributions to this beautiful province we are blessed to call home.

Just weeks ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned the Métis Nation a historic amount of times in Canada's Throne Speech, but not once were we mentioned by Pallister in Manitoba's Throne Speech. Manitoba is our province built on the vision and hard work of our Ancestors, and yet we were ignored by the Premier. This was not the only seed of division that has been planted by Pallister's government in recent weeks.

Shortly after the Throne Speech the Pallister Government announced they were cancelling their planned moose harvest season in 2020.

There is no new survey data to support this decision. This cancellation has nothing to do with the moose and everything to do with his personal vendetta against our Community and all Indigenous peoples. We have correspondence from Manitoba that states blatantly that they will not move forward with a moose hunt unless all interests, including non-aboriginal hunters, agree on a path forward.

Any attempt to prevent the Métis Nation or First Nations from feeding our families the traditional food we have been raised on generation after generation is clearly a message of systemic racism by Pallister and he is seeking to reward his supporters to pit the Indigenous against the non-aboriginal peoples.

The province is attempting to equalize the legal standing of non-aboriginal hunters and Indigenous harvesters. Non-aboriginal hunters enjoy a privilege, but Indigenous harvesters enjoy a constitutionally protected right to harvest. Pallister may not like it, but the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled numerous times that our section 35 harvesting rights trump non-aboriginal hunters' privileges. The interests of Pallister's voter base are not ahead of Canada's Constitution.

With Riel's birthday approaching, we must take a moment to remember what he stood for and the message that he carried with him. As the first Premier of Manitoba, Riel's beliefs and values are not what we are seeing today. Riel wanted to build bridges between all people, Indigenous or not, helping farmers and minorities and not erecting walls that divide us. He worked for the betterment of all Manitobans' lives in 1870 as well as for future generations. This is the path and vision that your Manitoba Metis Government continues to pursue.

Riel's vision of unity is clear when one looks at how the provisional governments were established and run. These governments allowed for representation of all Parishes in the Settlement; not just the French and not just the Métis were welcomed to represent the interests of the Parishes. Riel had a vision that advanced the interests of all Manitobans.

His vision included the Métis, First Nations, French, English, and all other future inhabitants of Manitoba coming together. Riel's vision was truly ahead of his time.

We are continuing this vision as we work together with the Southern Chiefs' Organization to establish a historic Indigenous-led conservation authority in Manitoba. There are over 3,100 moose in the two mountains; we are harvesting only 26 bull moose. How could anyone say we are not concerned or responsible knowing we have over 100,000 citizens and continue to work for the betterment of conservation and sharing?

We are extremely excited to work toward this objective and look forward to working with our First Nations relatives to protect the rights of all Indigenous peoples and set a model that will ensure our future generations have their rights protected as well.

If Riel was alive today, he would want us to continue forward with our conservation-minded limited moose harvest and resist Pallister's attempt to trample on the rights of all Indigenous peoples, like Riel resisted Canada's invasion 150 years ago. That is why we are continuing forward with our moose harvest this Fall. We want to make it clear: a limited moose harvest will not cause harm to the moose populations in the Duck and Porcupine Mountains.

Rest assured, we are in this together. Your Métis government will be by your side to resist the government's attempt to oppress our people. Please, be sure to exercise our harvesting rights responsibly and, as always, to abide by the Métis Laws of the Harvest. We cannot continue to allow Pallister to undermine our rights and support the recreational hunting pleasures of his friends.

We did our live draw on October 14 and the Moose Conservation Tags are being distributed to the successful Captains of the Hunt. Once more, we are recommending that the meat from this harvest be distributed to your families and Elders. As we are battling the second wave of COVID in Manitoba, we need to make sure that our Elders are taken care of.

My prayers go out to those victimized by the mob attack on Mi'kmaq fishers in Nova Scotia. The police are laying arson charges and we at the Manitoba Metis Federation are hoping that justice is truly handed down to those who committed this act of hatred. As Canadians we must stand together and not just stand by while injustice is committed.

I will also be keeping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in my prayers as we continue to combat this second wave in Manitoba. Please wash your hands, wear a mask, and practice social distancing protocols. If we work together as we did in the initial wave, we will make it out of this pandemic stronger and more united than ever.



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