President's Message - September 14, 2022

September 14, 2022

I recently had the opportunity to lead a delegation of Red River Métis to Los Angeles, California to meet with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership. Our goal was to explore potential partnerships and agreements that would foster economic well-being in our Nation, as well as benefitting U.S.-based Indigenous Nations and allies.

It's important to remember that Government-to-Government and Nation-to-Nation relationships are not confined to our dynamic with the federal, provincial, or municipal governments where we live. This approach can be applied to governments and Indigenous Nations from across the globe, which helps us foster true equality and generate opportunities for trade and partnership - this freedom to act as a sovereign Nation on the international stage is at the heart of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Meetings with allies and officials

One of our very first meetings was with the Canadian Consul General in Los Angeles. Our initial meeting was with Consul General Zaib Shaikh, Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner Thierry Weissenburger, and Consul and Trade Commissioner Jérôme Pischella. This was an initial discussion to discuss their ongoing support of our Indigenous inter-nation and international trade activities and how we can promote the trade commission to Red River Métis-owned businesses.

Then we became the very first Indigenous Nation from Canada to be officially recognized by the Los Angeles City Council. It was an honour to be welcomed by the city, and I thank Mitch O'Farrell, the first Indigenous Los Angeles City Councilmember, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Nury Martinez, and the rest of the Los Angeles City Council for their precedent-setting recognition.

Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and I also found common ground in our shared concern about the long-term health outcomes for Indigenous peoples, as we both know that these health outcomes are typically poorer than the general population. I believe there will be room to have further discussions with him and with the City of Los Angeles about the potential to share health studies, new practices, and other advancements that can help our Citizens.

Along with the official welcome from the City of Los Angeles, we also conducted introductory meetings with Santa Monica Councilmember Oscar de la Torre, where we found common interests in civic safety, homelessness, and our passion for community.

We also met with Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Jerome and Vice-President of Membership Lex Pavlovic, where we provided an overview of our delegation's purpose in the city and explored opportunities for Red River Métis involvement in the entertainment industry.

Renewing relationships with Indigenous Nations

One of the most significant parts of our trip were our meetings with Indigenous Nations. We were welcomed by Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, represented by Tribal President Rudy Ortega and Vice-President Mark Villaseñor. We also had an introductory meeting with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Canadians sometimes forget that our Nation existed at a time where there were no borders between us and our Indigenous neighbours to the south. Nation-to-Nation connections like the ones with the Cahuilla and the Fernandeño Tataviam are not new - they are, in fact, a renewal of the kinds of relationships we had before Canada and the United States became what they are today. In many ways, rekindling these relationships to discuss partnership, economic development, and trade is coming full circle, back to our roots and history.

When meeting with our Native American neighbours, it is easy to see this shared history in the way we relate to each other. Humour, recognition of kinship, and the principle of sharing what we have to our mutual benefit - these are cultural foundations that are shared across nearly every Indigenous Nation I have ever had the privilege to meet with. I look forward to continuing our dialogue in the future.

Creating new pathways

Reconciliation is more than just acknowledging past wrongs; it's about advancing our Nations and working together to create opportunities that better our peoples. As Citizens know, the Red River Métis have always been an economically-minded Nation, and we have been experiencing great success in building toward our resurgence as economic leaders across a variety of sectors. Know that your Red River Métis Government will continue to expand our relationships across the globe and advance reconciliation by all means, including economic.

Your Red River Métis Government will never shy away from breaking new ground as we advance our Nation's agenda both nationally and internationally, confident in our rights, both because of UNDRIP and the self-government recognition agreement we signed with Canada in 2021.

You could say it is in our blood - after all, our ancestors were independent thinkers, innovators, and creators. We exist as a Nation because of their ways of being. It is our inheritance and our obligation to those who came before us to forge our own path forward in the modern day, leaving a trail that others can choose to follow. The revival of our Nation is in full swing!

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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