President's Message - September 2, 2020

September 2, 2020

It is hard to believe that we are already into the month of September! For many, September means the start of a new school year. This year will be quite different from previous years. COVID-19 has presented us with both unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities to diversify our approach to problem solving.

Our new Government-to-Government relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has opened many new doors, including opportunities to support students planning on entering a post-secondary institution. In 2019, your Métis Government unveiled a new multimillion-dollar investment to support Métis students who have historically been denied comprehensive education supports at the post-secondary level.

The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Post-Secondary Education Support Program applications are open, and we encourage all Métis students to apply. This program aims to improve the education of students from the Manitoba Métis Community by providing those going into post-secondary programs with funds of up to $5,000. Please visit www.mmfeducation.ca for more details on the program.

The health and safety of our Métis Citizens remains a high priority for your Manitoba Métis Government. COVID cases in Manitoba have continued to rise over the past number of weeks. With school quickly approaching, we are encouraging all Métis families to consider what is best for them, which may include homeschooling their children.

We are in the process of developing tools and resources that will assist our Métis families to homeschool their children effectively. Though it may be a difficult task, we need to continue to be cautious until we know if Manitoba's return-to-school strategy works and is safe for Manitobans and our Métis families.

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre (WHRC). The WHRC is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Western Canada, and has been in operation since 1984. The WHRC rehabilitates injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife and relies heavily on donations and volunteers.

During our tour we got to learn a lot about the facility and the work that goes into rehabilitating these animals. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to release a rehabilitated eagle back into the wild. The Métis Nation greatly values the conservation and protection of our ecosystem, and we look forward to exploring potential partnerships with the WHRC in the near future.

Respecting wildlife is a value that has been instilled in the Métis Nation since our establishment. Our Ancestors relied on the land and its resources to provide our families with sustenance. Conservation is always on the mind of Métis hunters. Our People are always forward thinking and mindful of the next generation. Many of us learned from an early age the value of honouring and respecting every animal that is harvested.

We fought hard in the courts, and in negotiations, to get our inherent rights to hunt and fish recognized. Our Elders have always said that with rights come responsibility. We must ensure that we are following the Métis Laws of the Harvest and continue to practice the tradition of honouring our commitment toward future generations.

The Manitoba Métis honour the values for conservation listed in our Métis Laws of the Harvest. We know that we must not waste food and we should only harvest what we need. That is why we have self-imposed limits on what can be harvested, when it can be harvested, and how much we can harvest. We must share with our Métis Elders, mothers, and disabled individuals who cannot hunt for themselves.

With autumn around the corner, many of you will be heading out and stocking your freezer with meat for your family. It is critical that all harvesters follow the rules put in place by your Manitoba Métis Government.

One law that cannot be overlooked is that those intending to harvest must first renew their Conservation Trust Fund (CTF) sticker. Due to the pandemic, the MMF is in partial closure, and the process to renew your CTF sticker has changed. Please consult our website or contact your Regional Office to get assistance on renewing this sticker. The MMF encourages everyone to practice this inherent right to harvest, but please do so responsibly and safely.

Over August we honoured two more Métis World War II veterans as a part of the Métis Veterans Legacy Program. Our Métis WWII Veterans sacrificed so much, but returned home to so little. Métis Veterans were often turned away by Veterans Affairs Canada and did not receive the same supports, resources, or benefits that were given to other non-Métis Veterans. As the Veterans aged and their immense contributions to Canada's war effort continued to be ignored by Canada, the Métis Nation launched a campaign to right the wrongs of the past and ensure that our Métis heroes were accorded the honour and compensation they deserved.

I lobbied with four Prime Ministers over the course of 20 years to get our Métis Veterans the recognition and apology they deserve. On September 10, 2019, the Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs, Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, issued a formal apology to all WWII Métis Veterans on behalf of Canada. Following this, Canada and the Métis National Council reached an agreement of $30 million to establish a legacy fund to address Canada's shortcomings 75 years ago.

The Métis Veterans honoured in August were Aileen Tate and Alyce Bradshaw. Aileen was a Private in the Canadian Women's Army Corps during the war. She was awarded the War Medal 1939-1945 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. Alyce joined the military upon graduating high school and served in the Army Postal Corps.

Though our mind is constantly focused on COVID, we need to ensure that our Métis Veterans are not forgotten. These Veterans are our heroes today, tomorrow, and forever.

I will continue to keep the health and safety of our Métis Citizens and, indeed, all Canadians in my prayers, especially those in the Prairie Mountain Health Region. There are many Métis villages in this health region, and though it may be difficult for some to cope with the new rules imposed on the region, we need to act responsibly and listen to the local health authorities. If we all do our part, together we will get through this difficult time.

 


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