President's Message - September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

The Indigenous community of Canada has grappled with many challenges over the years, from the harmful impacts of the residential and day school system to the aftermath of the Sixties Scoop. For the Red River Métis, our most recent challenge has been handling the impacts of COVID-19 without a distinctions-based healthcare strategy to protect our Nation. For these reasons, and so many others, it's vital that our voices be heard and that we show all elected officials that we matter. The only way we can do that is through expressing ourselves when it counts - and right now, that means getting out and voting on September 20.

I am very pleased with the tremendous response we've received from Citizens about our incentive program to encourage the Red River Métis vote. As a reminder, any Red River Métis Nation Citizen, or individual able to demonstrate that they are eligible to become a Citizen, who takes a picture outside of a polling station and tags the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), will have their name put into a draw to win a PS5 console or the grand prize - a brand new Chevy Spark. Those Citizens who help to bring five other individuals to their correct polling station will also be eligible to win one of five 50-inch flat-screen televisions.

On September 10, the first day of advance polls, over 50 Cabinet members and staff, including me, took an hour to head to the polling station and cast our own votes. Not only was it important for us to demonstrate leadership in getting out to vote, we wanted to be sure we were available to offer our support to Citizens in all Regions on September 20. For any Citizen who needs help getting to the polling station or any other support in getting out to vote, I urge you to contact the Home Office or your Regional Office for assistance - your Métis Government has your back.

If you're still considering your vote and informing yourself about the party platforms, we have additional resources to help you. On our website, you will find a list of 15 priorities you identified, along with the verbatim responses to these priorities from the parties. For ease of reference, we are also offering a consolidated view of the party responses in a table format, which is also posted on our website.

What we have found is that most of the major parties contending to lead the federal government are committed to advancing truth and reconciliation, but the details and the degree to which they have incorporated this commitment into their plans can be quite different.

The Bloc Quebecois are the only party that did not provide a detailed response to our inquiry.

However, the Liberal Party of Canada (Liberal), the Green Party of Canada (Green), and the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) have all provided details highlighting how their platforms include our Nation's priorities and needs.

Liberal commitments to the Red River Métis

The Liberals clearly committed to nine of our 15 priorities, with two additional partial commitments. The Liberals committed to recognition of our treaty rights, and negotiations for settling our land claim. They also committed to completing the process of transferring full responsibility and jurisdiction to the MMF for Métis child and family services.

The Liberals further committed to co-developing distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation, removing barriers for Indigenous businesses within the federal procurement contract process, and working with the MMF to "improve educational outcomes for Métis students in post-secondary institutions."

Partial commitments include support for "addressing the needs of Manitoba Métis businesses and entrepreneurs, including support for traditional and cultural businesses, and increasing broadband access in rural and remote communities." They further confirmed their commitment to working with the MMF to support greater economic participation of our businesses in Canada and around the world.

Green commitments to the Red River Métis

The Greens clearly committed to five of our priorities, including recognition of our treaty rights, and good faith negotiations for settling our land claim. They also stated that they want "to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Indigenous people as identified in international law, constitutional law and under the treaties," as per the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action.

They further committed to supporting education by boosting access to apprentice programs in key trades and investing in Métis students through consultation and collaboration with the MMF, governments, universities, and colleges.

Their final clear commitment was in distinction-based set-asides, which would help Citizens access a proportionate share of contracts with Canada and allow time for individuals to gain the needed skills to successfully compete for contracts in our communities, saying they would work to "ensure First Nations, Inuit and Métis businesses have access to and success in government procurement."

NDP commitments to the Red River Métis

The NDP clearly committed to three of our priorities, including recognition of our treaty rights, concluding negotiations for settling our land claim to our satisfaction, and completing the process of transferring full responsibility and jurisdiction to the MMF for Métis child and family services.

They also provided partial commitments to supporting the growing microbusiness economy and our participation in the international marketplace.

Conservative commitments to the Red River Métis

The Conservative Party of Canada provided a high-level response and committed to providing a more detailed and fulsome plan for a Red River Métis-specific approach. To date, we are still waiting for this plan.

Why should I vote?

As you can see, each party has a different approach and philosophy to addressing the needs of the Red River Métis.

We have gained so much ground in recent years. We can now provide up to $20,000 in funding over four years for our post-secondary students and offer funding to Citizens to make much-needed repairs to their homes or purchase their first home - we've already helped Citizens purchase over 500 houses. We're opening daycare centres across the province that will employ hundreds of early childcare workers. We're seeing Métis entrepreneurs excel in the emerging microbusiness economy and are finding ways to support these innovative entrepreneurs, along with the farmers, ranchers, and fishers who are dedicated to preserving our traditional economies. We've begun the process of taking over jurisdiction for our children in care, ensuring that the system moves from apprehension to prevention. We've received a multimillion-dollar stimulus package to generate economic growth and recovery in the post-pandemic era.

These are just some examples of how the federal government can affect our Nation. This is why all Red River Métis Citizens must get out and vote. I urge you to look at each party and decide which will help your Nation continue to gain ground, should they form government. Look at the party platforms and make the choice that allows you to stand for your friends and family.

I also encourage you to ensure your eligible family, friends, and community members are able to get to the polls and vote in this critical election. I ask our seniors and Elders - the Knowledge Keepers and protectors of our traditions - to spend time speaking with the Youth in their community in the days leading up to September 20, to help them understand how important it is to vote.

While your Métis Government continues to work on these long-term supports for our Nation, I encourage everyone to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines, particularly with the Delta variant causing so much harm in Western Canada. 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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