Le Metis – April 16, 2020
On behalf of Cabinet and all the staff of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), it is our sincerest wish that you had an enjoyable Easter weekend spending quality time with your family in your home. We trust that you all practiced physical distancing and will continue to protect yourselves and your family by staying in your homes as we take the necessary steps to both wait out and defeat this COVID-19 pandemic. While difficult, self-isolation is the key to help us beat this virus. We need to take this threat to our safety and well-being seriously.
As you may already know, we have been working on a province-wide Health Action Plan to ensure we get our services out to our Citizens. Although your Metis Government is partially closed – and we do have people working from home and behind closed doors to maintain social distancing practices – it is our responsibility as the MMF Cabinet and staff to continue to serve our Citizens. The MMF has been maintaining critical services, and I want to thank the Minister of Finance and Human Resources, Anita Campbell, and the Minister of Health & Early Learning Child Care, Frances Chartrand, for leading the charge on this action plan.
Active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are rising, and we are now seeing evidence of community spread. This means that it is not only people who have travelled internationally who have this virus. We have not heard of any Metis Citizens who have contracted the virus, but we are preparing for when it does hit our Metis towns and villages.
Our action plan has a communications component to keep our Citizens informed. Our website at www.mmf.mb.ca is being updated daily with national, provincial, and MMF news about our fight against COVID-19.
Our website is a trusted source and we are pleased to accommodate the growth of users we are experiencing as a result of our new daily update videos. Our Information Technology department has expanded our platform to accommodate the technical increase and demands that our site is experiencing.
With that I am pleased to share that the Louis Riel Institute (LRI) is exploring new videos for families that will be posted on our website. Ideas include: Metis storytime, early years book activities, home science experiments, music and dance lessons, Michif word/phrase of the day, and puppetry. It is our hope that these videos will help with the challenges some families are facing at home.
Some people at home are experiencing stress. Many have been laid off due to the virus, and they’re trying to figure out how to pay their bills or keep their businesses open. We have a plan for them. According to the Federal Government, more than one million Canadians lost their jobs in the month of March. These are heartbreaking numbers. If you’ve been affected by COVID-19, please don’t hesitate to contact your Metis Government.
We have already committed to helping out Metis employees who have been laid off due to COVID-19, and Metis entrepreneurs who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. We’re giving families between $750 and $1,000 to help pay essential bills. The Louis Riel Capital Corporation is providing Metis entrepreneurs negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with contributions between $1,000 and $10,000 and deferring loan payments for up to six months for existing clients.
MMF continues to deliver hundreds of hampers to our Elders and other vulnerable individuals. We cherish our Elders and do not want them going outside, so we’re dedicated to giving them the resources they need to stay in the safety of their homes. After hearing of the effects that COVID-19 has on the elderly community, we made this program a top priority since day one. Between 50 and 150 hampers are continuing to be being delivered each day.
As an update to the meetings with the Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres, the MMF has committed to distributing up to $500,000 to support the 11 Friendship Centres across Manitoba. We commend these Centres for what they have been doing and will continue to meet with them to support their COVID-19 emergency responses.
Some people are reverting to harvesting to stock their freezers with food. We all know people at this time of year start to prepare for the spring hunt for geese and ducks. Make sure you have your Metis Harvester card with you. We have extended the expiry date of your Conservation Trust Fund (CTF) stickers until June 1, 2020. On June 1, big game tags and CTF stickers will be available. Those who still have their bear tag from 2019-20 can use this until June 1, 2020. This may change depending on the COVID-19 situation, but we will be sure to keep you up to date.
I am very proud of the Provincial Youth Advisory Committee as they are also helping each other in this time of crisis. They are working on videos and have already posted one; we all look forward to their continued initiatives. We want to make sure that students don’t get left behind. The MMF has committed to giving nearly $1.7 million to Metis students, many of whom are at home because schools have shut down.
LRI is also in discussions with post-secondary institutions to create a plan with the unexpended education dollars as a result of COVID-19. The MMF has your back.
At the beginning of this month, the MMF hosted the first-ever edition of The Beat Goes On, a livestream featuring Metis music for everyone to enjoy from their living rooms. We received a lot of positive feedback from viewers and have decided to make this an ongoing program, expanding to two days a week. Please visit our website at www.mmf.mb.ca or the MMF Facebook page on Thursdays at 7 pm and Saturdays at 2 pm. If you are unable to watch the livestream, the videos will be online for you to view at your convenience. This is a way for you and your loved ones to connect and celebrate Metis culture in a responsible way during these times of social distancing.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those families that are suffering the loss of loved ones now, but especially during COVID-19. We know this makes the grieving process that much harder with physical distancing and the hardships now faced with limited direct family supports.
My heart is with everyone in isolation in their homes. Though we must stay six feet apart, we will all stand together. The Metis Nation is strong when united and we will emerge from this stronger than before.
MMF President David Chartrand
2019-20 Metis Harvesting Season Extended to May 31
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has extended the 2019-20 Metis Harvesting season until May 31, 2020, or later, as necessary. The 2020-21 Harvesting season was scheduled to open on April 1, 2020, but it will now begin on June 1, 2020.
In order to avoid visiting their Regional Office due to concerns regarding COVID-19, Metis Harvesters will be able to use their current Conservation Trust Fund (CTF) stickers and tags until May 31, 2020. CTF stickers and big game tags for the 2020-21 season will be available on June 1. Except for bear, the season for harvesting big game does not open until July 15. Harvesters who still have a remaining bear tag from the 2019-20 Harvesting season will be able to use that tag until May 31.
MMF President David Chartrand addressed Harvesters in his April 7 President’s Message, posted to the MMF website. “I know people are somewhat concerned about having enough food in their freezers, enough food in their fridge, to make sure they take care of their family,” President Chartrand said, referring to food scarcity concerns due to empty shelves at grocery stores.
Assuring his Citizens that North America will not run out of food, President Chartrand encouraged Harvesters to hunt for ducks and geese. “Our Elders would love to have a goose; if you can take one to them, please do so. If you have extra geese at home, or extra ducks you’re taking, don’t be afraid to share them with your fellow neighbour next door,” he added. “See if we can, at this time of crisis, all help each other.”
While staff is still working and assisting Citizens and Harvesters, the MMF Central Registry Office (CRO) will be closed to the public until June 1, 2020, or later, as necessary, due to situations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The CRO also suspended in-person Citizenship and Harvesting intake appointments until June 1 in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
For questions regarding the Harvesting season, please contact your Regional Office, or the CRO at 204-586-8474 or email@example.com.
MMF Launches Home Enhancement Loan Program for Metis Homeowners
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is launching a $1.5-million Metis-specific home repair program for low- and moderate-income Metis homeowners. The Home Enhancement Loan Program (HELP) will increase the lifespan of hundreds of homes across the province, and will include services such as accessibility improvements, black mold removal, and roof repair. HELP is now accepting applications, and is anticipated to roll out on May 1, 2020, unless the COVID-19 pandemic delays this date.
“The Home Enhancement Loan Program will be the latest initiative from your Metis Government as we strive to provide our Citizens with the ‘head start’ promised in 1870,” said Will Goodon, MMF Minister of Housing and Property Management.
“This initiative will join the First Time Home Purchase Program, affordable housing projects, and the development of a Metis-specific strategy to address homelessness in our families and communities.”
MMF-HELP will provide eligible Metis homeowners with a loan of up to $15,000 for home repairs and enhancements. Eligibility criteria includes having a total gross income not exceeding $85,000 and total liquid assets inclusive of RRSP investments not exceeding $300,000. The loan will be forgiven after five years if the terms and conditions are met.
Preference will be given to Metis Citizens who prove immediate emergency or health and safety-related housing needs. “Funding can also be used to enhance and maintain existing homes to suit changing family composition, including changes related to accommodating the needs of those aging in place,” said Minister Goodon.
MMF-HELP was developed in response to the Province of Manitoba discontinuing several emergency repair and renovation programs that supported low- to moderate-income homeowners. These programs, such as the Manitoba Emergency Repair Program for Homeowners and the Homeowner Renovation Assistance Program, offered financial support to make essential repairs for homes to be restored to minimum safety standards.
“Metis Citizens no longer have supports in place to pay for critical repairs to their homes. Many of you relied on these housing programs, and you made it clear to your Metis government that repair programming is an essential need,” said Minister Goodon.
“We hear you, and we understand that these repairs need to be made in order to make your home safe, in order to make your home healthy to live in, and especially within these trying and unknown times,” he added.
“We look forward to working with you, your families, and your communities to help make our homes even better than they are today.”
MMF-HELP was announced at the 2019 MMF Annual General Assembly with a launch date of April 1, 2020. Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the launch has been delayed.
The program is expected to have a significant economic impact for the Metis community, especially for Metis contractors and suppliers. In addition to being a significant wealth builder for Metis families, it will create $1 million in direct wages and an approximate $3-million GDP increase in Manitoba.
For more information on MMF-HELP, please contact the MMF Housing Department at 204-586-8474, ext. 230, or Louis Riel Capital Corporation at 204-589-0772.
Elsie Bear’s Kitchen Donates Sandwiches to North End Women’s Centre
Elsie Bear’s Kitchen (EBK), located at the Manitoba Metis Federation’s (MMF) Winnipeg location at 150 Henry Ave., has been donating sandwiches to North End Women’s Centre (NEWC). The NEWC is handing out sandwiches every weekday between 10 am and 4 pm to those in need. EBK is now closed to the public due to situations surrounding COVID-19, but it otherwise offers a large breakfast and lunch menu, including burgers, fries, salads, soups, and sandwiches.
EBK’s donation of sandwiches to NEWC is part of MMF’s larger effort to provide food to organizations that address homelessness and basic needs. Including the NEWC, the MMF is currently handing out 500 sandwiches a day to organizations like Bear Clan and Mama Bear Clan.
The NEWC is a non-profit dedicated to providing programs and services to women in Winnipeg, including addictions recovery, counselling, and information surrounding coronavirus prevention. It also helps women and their families meet their basic needs, and has been organizing supply drives for emergency items such as diapers, baby food, and hand sanitizer.
MMF Providing Self-Isolation Units for Metis Citizens in Response to COVID-19
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Housing Department is making available five mobile tiny homes for emergencies in villages or towns where families need to self-isolate due to COVID-19. The first three homes are already in the province, and are being equipped with furniture, housewares, and grocery staples.
“In light of the pandemic and health crisis facing all Canadians, your Metis Government is taking proactive steps to protect our Metis Citizens no matter where they live,” said Will Goodon, MMF Minister of Housing and Property Management.
“The first three will be dispatched to our rural and northern regions as soon as possible. These three will be stored in Swan River, The Pas, and Thompson.”
The tiny homes are able to be moved with little notice, which will make them valuable to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
In addition to the tiny homes, Métis N4 Construction – a Manitoba Metis Government-owned company – has made two secure 48-bed camps available under MMF Energy and Infrastructure Minister Jack Park’s direction. These are fully accessible health facilities as part of a larger action of community supports for people entering self-isolation and for those with special needs.
“The Manitoba Metis Government is taking this crisis very seriously and we are all working together,” said Minister Park. “If and when the need is there, our new health facilities will be ready. We have a team currently working on intake criteria for both the tiny homes and the health facilities because we need to be ready for what could be coming.”
These facilities will be available on an as-needed basis outside the Metis Government use as a benefit to all Manitobans.