President's Message - September 18, 2019

September 18, 2019

Imagine a group of Métis heroes, who along with many, many other Canadians, when they were called to war by their country, they answered that call. They put their lives on the line and fought to protect the freedom of each and every one of us. The ones who were lucky enough to come home rightly expected Recognition, Rights, and Respect. But that was not to be for the Métis.

No, the Métis did not get the hero's welcome that anyone would expect from the country they fought to defend. Worse, the Métis experienced insult and discrimination. They were given no post-war compensation. They were unrecognized and unsupported. The Métis were left alone to deal with the emotional suffering that comes from war, now widely known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many of these heroes did not prosper in their lives after the trauma of war, and their condition was worsened by the way they were disrespected in their own country. The Métis were once again used and discarded.

All human beings deserve fair treatment. But the brutal reality is, justice is often only gained by inches. And we all know, for the Métis, justice has historically been rare.

It's been a painstaking, step-by-step process to achieve recognition. The news I am sharing today has taken three-quarters of a century to arrive, and it is something I have been fighting for my entire career.

This month from Ottawa, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Associate Minister of National Defence, issued an historic apology to the pre- and post-Second World War Métis Veterans. The statement stems from the 2017 Canada-Métis Nation Accord in which the federal government acknowledged the pressing need for reconciliation in action. The long overdue experience of Métis Veterans finally became a priority. And it wasn't just words that were offered. The federal government provided compensation for our heroes, and I will continue to personally present our remaining Veterans with their remuneration and give them the official thanks they have been waiting a lifetime for.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seen the Métis, he has honoured true reconciliation, and promoted an enlightened relationship between Canada and the Métis Nation. Recognition, Rights, Respect: The Liberal Government has given us these three Rs. So, where do we sit in our own home province, the very place the Métis negotiated into Confederation?

It is no great surprise, after calling an election one year early, that the provincial Conservative party is still in power. That was pure strategy. And Pallister boasts that his victory is historic. More accurately, his strategy is historic.

What many people are unaware of is, the very day after the provincial election, the Manitoba Metis Federation is sitting in Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, suing Brian Pallister and the provincial government over their "unconstitutional and unlawful actions against the Manitoba Metis Community on March 21, 2018, after the unprecedented resignations of 9 of the ten board members of Manitoba Hydro". The truth will come out.

As we approach Manitoba's 150th birthday, let's think about history, and be inspired by Louis Riel and the Red River Resistance. It was the fight for our rights that led to the creation of the Province of Manitoba.

The Métis are historically ready to fight for Recognition, Rights, and Respect. Let's continue to work together to make history.

Our Métis Veterans were part of a large delegate of volunteers who repatriated Europe and the rest of the world from the Nazi attack on democracy and independence. Our Métis Veterans gave us a legacy to remember. Now with $30 million from the Federal government we will create a legacy to last that will honour their memories.

In closing, I send my thoughts and prayers to those who are shut-in, ill or have cause to grieve. I also send my wishes for a safe return to school for our Children and Youth. I look forward to seeing you all at the upcoming Annual General Assembly taking place this month at the Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg on September 20 - 22.

Meeqwetch,

 


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