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This past week, I went home and spent the best part of a week with family and friends out on the ice and in the bush for the spring goose hunt. This is an annual tradition in our community that has taken place over many generations since the time of our Ancestors. This tradition and right was reaffirmed nearly five years ago by the Powley Decision.Despite the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, many of our Metis citizens practicing their traditions are still being harassed by some government officers. It appears that the Manitoba Government is awaiting a decision in the Goodon Case and, possibly others, before fully committing itself to the collective rights of our People.
We have many collective rights affirmed in both Canadian and International law. Some of these have been documented at the United Nations in such forms as the recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Some are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of our Canadian Constitution.
The English version of section 35 speaks of Aboriginal rights while the French version talks about Ancestral rights. The nuances of the two are interesting. The first recognizes the Metis were here from the beginning and before the founding of Canada. The second emphasizes that our rights are founded on the culture and history of our Ancestors.
The Metis have a colourful past and, for sure, a vibrant future. We are Partners in Confederation and the Founders of Manitoba. It is our right and obligation to uncover more about our history and share it with others. It is essential that we use all means to ensure our youth and our neighbours learn about and remember our ancestral heritage.
Upper Fort Garry is an important part of Manitoba’s history. It is the background of the Metis-led events resulting in the creation of our province. Louis Riel and Metis leaders such as Ambroise Lepine, Elzear Goulet, Elzear Lagimodiere, and others, must be remembered for the legacy they have left all Manitobans. That is why we support the Friends of Upper Fort Garry.
A philosopher once said that a People without a history has no future. The right to protect our history and our right to choose our future goes hand in hand. Following in the steps of our Ancestors, we will develop provincial, national and international partnerships that will shape our future. Indeed, we will explore and seize opportunities at home and abroad. Someday, the Metis Nation will be known around the globe.
I would like to take this time to congratulate the professional leadership of our Vice Presidents and board members in hosting the Regional Meeting that have taken place so far. The strength of our Metis Government relies on their hard work and dedication supported by our volunteers and local executive across the province.
I offer my prayers and condolences for those who have recently lost family, friends, and neighbours. Please pray for the good health of those who are sick or shut-in.
Believe in Yourself – Believe in Metis. Our success today will be our legacy to our children and grandchildren tomorrow.
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