Le Metis – April 1, 2020
In this trying time, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has been working tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of our Metis people here and across the Nation. As a result of our efforts, we are protecting all Manitobans – our friends, families, and neighbours. We have been unveiling many essential programs and resources to our Citizens regularly. We have been reaching out to other levels of government, agencies, and organizations to extend and potentially optimize services to not only Metis people, but to other Manitobans.
The MMF – your Manitoba Metis Government – has been working diligently to deliver hampers across the province. Over this past month, each Region has been forming partnerships and working with grocery stores and other food providers to put hampers together for our Elders and vulnerable Citizens in the Manitoba Metis Community. It brings me a great amount of joy seeing the good work being done to assemble these hampers. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the stores across the province that have been responding positively to our requests for perishable and non-perishable goods.
I would also like to commend the bravery of the delivery drivers and designated shoppers that have been delivering and gathering items for these hampers. In these times of uncertainty, we need brave people on the ground to ensure the success of this hamper program, and I thank them for their service. And finally, I thank Infinity Women Secretariat for their role in helping to support the hamper deliveries to our Metis Elders. The MMF recently reached out to the Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres to offer support during these difficult times.
Recognizing the important role that Friendship Centres play across the Homeland, the MMF has a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding with these Friendship Centres. After discussions, the Metis Government has been looking at ways to financially assist with the Friendship Centres’ needs, such as staffing and essential programming to help keep the doors open to provide services to children and families. Many Friendship Centres continue to support foodbanks in their area, and Manitobans cannot afford to lose this essential service that many families utilize, especially during this economic crisis.
We are looking at the opportunity to assist with other foodbanks across the province to help address shortages during this pandemic. We have also reached out to the leading homelessness organizations to have important discussions around helping people in urban environments. These discussions with the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Siloam Mission, Salvation Army, Main Street Project, and many others are focused on a collaborative solutions-based approach. Together we are looking at gaps and the MMF has been asked to financially assist within some of the sectors of services that these groups provide.
During these discussions, the MMF has been asked for support to put funding in place for the potential use of Thunderbird House. This is not an MMF building; however, we are exploring the option of creating a COVID-19 testing site for those that are homeless. This building is vacant, but needs investment to cover items such as washrooms, outstanding costs, and operation costs to ensure it is ready for reopening. This matter is now being reviewed by MMF Housing Minister Will Goodon. Recognizing that the COVID-19 crisis is not only affecting the Metis, but all Manitobans, the MMF is committing to providing supports in any way we can to the forementioned organizations and the populations they serve. We have gone one step further in our efforts to assist small businesses and utilize Metis grocery stores.
For example, Metis-owned Elsie Bear’s Kitchen has been making sandwiches, and these are being delivered to people who are homeless as well as organizations that provide meals for this marginalized population. Recognizing the shortage of hand sanitizer in the market today, we have been exploring investments in the equipment necessary to produce our own hand sanitizer. Utilizing our partnership with Nonsuch Brewing Co., the MMF anticipates investing as soon as possible in the supplies necessary to begin producing hand sanitizer. We understand the role alcohol-based hand sanitizers play in protecting individuals from COVID-19, and want to ensure our Citizens and other Manitobans have products to help combat the virus. We are also looking at other opportunities to produce hand sanitizer and will have an update for our Citizens shortly.
In addition, the MMF has been recognizing the impacts of COVID-19 on Manitoba Metis Government affiliates. One of the most impacted services is Metis Child and Family Services (MCFS). The MMF has granted an additional $400,000 of support to the MCFS to ensure that there is no gap in service for children in care. This funding will go toward the acquisition of electronics that will allow Case Workers and other MCFS employees to continue their work from home. These types of investments are incredibly important for families to bond and communicate responsibly while ensuring isolation protocols are followed.
Another way the MMF is helping Citizens through this unprecedented time is through the recent announcement of funding to bridge the gap until federal funds are released in mid- to late April. These funding opportunities help Metis employees and entrepreneurs receive the supports they need to take care of their families. Please go to our website at www.mmf.mb.ca for more detailed information. Many of these programs are announced via media releases and emails to our Citizens.
If you have not already signed up for our email service, please do so by contacting email@example.com. If you know of someone in your villages, towns, and city neighbourhoods who does not have access to emails, please share with them the work the MMF is doing to ensure they are not left behind.
Once again, I would like to thank all MMF Cabinet, staff, and Citizens for the roles they have been playing to mitigate the hardships faced in this difficult time. The Metis have been through difficult times before, but we always re-emerge strong. Rest assured, in the capable hands of our Cabinet and their staff, the Metis will never be left behind or forgotten again. As always, I will keep the health and safety of our Nation and its Citizens in my prayers. Please remember to practice social distancing, selfisolation, and hygiene, as we must protect not only ourselves but others around us from this horrible virus.
President David Chartrand LL.D (hon). O.M.
MMF Invests $1 Million in Emergency Funds for Metis Citizens During COVID-19 Pandemic
On March 20, 2020, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) announced a $1 million investment for supports for Metis Citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will provide financial help for Metis Elders, entrepreneurs, and employees who are adversely impacted by the pandemic. This funding will contribute to the MMF Health Action Plan, which includes direct supports, partnerships, and outreach to Metis Citizens during this time. Thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for including the Metis Nation as part of the federal COVID-19 strategy, MMF President David Chartrand called for unity. “We will need to work together to address the health, economic, and social impacts on the Metis in this rapidly evolving COVID-19 health crisis,” said President Chartrand. The Manitoba Metis have some of the highest levels of chronic disease, rendering them susceptible to the virus. MMF has been checking in and following up with over 1,000 Elders to ensure they have rides for their doctor appointments, medication, food, and essential supplies. “Health authorities across the country and the globe have made it clear that Elders and other vulnerable people need to be in self-isolation. We will do what we can to ensure our Metis Elders do not leave the safety of their homes unless they have to,” said Frances Chartrand, MMF Minister of Health & Early Learning Child Care President Chartrand announced on Facebook Live that each MMF Region would be receiving $25,000 immediately so that these services could be offered as soon as possible. The MMF is also offering aid to Metis employers and employees who are experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19. “This pandemic is causing financial strain to business owners and their employees, which is obviously no fault of their own,” said President Chartrand in a statement. “We are asking Metis entrepreneurs or employees who are being impacted financially to register with the MMF today, so we may work with them to assist within all sectors and offer our support for their families alongside the ongoing announcements from Canada.” The MMF also purchased three mobile health isolation units, and is working with Métis N4 Construction to produce two secure, 48-bed, fully accessible health facilities, which could be used for self-isolation. “These initiatives are part of the ongoing partnerships between the Federal Government and the Metis Nation,” said President Chartrand. “It is our responsibility to work together for the betterment of our Citizens and, indeed, all Canadians. United, we will emerge strong after this critical situation.” MMF Citizens can contact the MMF at the numbers below: Metis Employees and Elders: 1-800-665-8474 (Elder Support ext. 371, Employment Supports ext. 214) Metis Businesses and Entrepreneurs: 1-800-387-6004
WWII Metis Veteran Receives $20,000 Recognition Payment from the Metis Nation
The Metis Nation presented WWII Metis Veteran Donald (Russell) Linklater with a Recognition Payment on March 24, 2020. Celebrating his 101st birthday, Veteran Linklater received the $20,000 cheque at his home in Selkirk, Manitoba. The Recognition Payment is part of the Metis Veterans Recognition Program created in partnership with the Trudeau government to honour forgotten Metis soldiers. Due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols, David Chartrand – Metis Nation Minister of Veterans Affairs and Manitoba Metis Federation President – was unable to personally present the Recognition Payment to Veteran Linklater. “Though I cannot be there personally, it is very important that Veteran Linklater receives his long-awaited thank-you and Recognition Payment from the Metis Nation, Prime Minister Trudeau, and Canada on his 101st birthday,” said President Chartrand. “I look forward to having an opportunity in the very near future to meet Veteran Linklater and learn from his life experiences.” Veteran Linklater was born in 1919 in Cloverdale, Manitoba. In between his work at Manitoba Rolling Mills, he signed up for the Air Force in 1940, and worked as a physical training instructor until 1945. In 1950, Veteran Linklater married his wife Elaine, and they had two children together. Since his retirement in 1984, he has spent his time keeping physically active, working with the Special Olympics and singing in the choir. President Chartrand said, “The impacts of COVID-19 are reminiscent of war as we face this world crisis that is ravaging our most vulnerable in society. As we fight our invisible enemy, it is heartening to steal a moment in time from the rage of battle to celebrate and honour the contributions of Veteran Linklater and fellow Metis Brethren in liberating the world of tyranny in WWII.”
MMF Responds to Court of Queen’s Bench Decision on Quashed Manitoba Hydro Deal
On March 17, 2020, the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the Manitoba government had the right to cancel a deal between the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and Crown-owned Manitoba Hydro. Chief Justice Glenn Joyal wrote that the directive “is a lawful and reasonable exercise of cabinet’s statutory power to enforce its stewardship role over Hydro.” In a September 2019 hearing, the MMF argued that the provincial government didn’t have the right to quash the settlement, which was agreed to by the MMF and Manitoba Hydro in 2017. The MMF referred to the government’s actions as “an unlawful exercise of authority that failed to uphold the honour of the Crown.” The agreement, which the province cancelled in March 2018, would have provided the MMF with $67.5 million for its support of six hydro projects in the Manitoba Metis Homeland. In a statement on March 18, 2020, the MMF expressed disappointment in the ruling. “We entered into solemn agreements setting out how Metis people’s constitutional rights would be accommodated in respect of Hydro development in our province,” said MMF President David Chartrand. “The Court has now ruled that the provincial government is not bound by the Honour of the Crown in respect of those agreements. That cannot be correct. The conduct of the Pallister Government was profoundly dishonourable.” President Chartrand added, “Other Indigenous leaders will probably be very surprised to learn that they cannot trust or rely upon agreements that they negotiate with the Crown in Manitoba regarding their Aboriginal rights.” He also noted that the decision not only affects the Manitoba Metis community. “All Indigenous people should beware if the Crown can take the benefits of an accommodation agreement and then simply walk away before fulfilling its end of the bargain. “This lower court appears to have created a giant gap in the reconciliation framework set out by the Supreme Court of Canada. If this decision is somehow right, all the impact and benefit agreements signed across the country are not what we thought they were.” The MMF will appeal the Court’s decision to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. In early March, the MMF also filed a statement of claim suing the Government of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, Premier Brian Pallister, and other Ministers as a result of their actions related to the agreement between MMF and Manitoba Hydro.