Manitoba Metis Federation one step closer to self government 

By Chelsea Kemp

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Manitoba Metis Federation refined the verbiage of its constitution at its annual general assembly over the weekend, enhancing  its ability to serve at the National Government of the Red River Metis.

The annual general assembly took place Friday to Sunday and  featured 23 resolutions to amend the MMF constitution, election bylaws

Leah LaPlante, vice-president of the southwest region for the Manitoba Métis Federation   

The MMF is in negotiations with the federal government to  establish a treaty process and build the rules around being a government  for the Red River Metis. An accord between the parties was struck on  July 6, 2021, when the Manitoba Metis Recognition and Implementation  Agreement was signed. Together, they are working to advance the document  and government-to-government relationship based on the affirmation of  rights, respect, co-operation and partnership with the Red River Metis.

The document was co-developed by all parties, and marks a  historic agreement that will support the MMF’s vision of  self-determination and self-government, Leah LaPlante, the MMF southwest  region vice-president, said.

The agreement recognizes Manitoba Metis’ right to  self-government and the mandate of the MMF to serve as the government of  the Manitoba Metis. This includes recognition of the MMF’s jurisdiction  over citizenship, leadership selection, elections and the operations in  regards to Red River Metis citizens.

The constitutional amendments at the MMF assembly are a critical part of history, LaPlante said, and marks generations of hard work on behalf  of the Metis people coming to fruition.

At times, she had doubted she would ever get to witness the historic moment.

“I think sometimes we still pinch ourselves to think that we have finally been recognized after so many years.”

LaPlante was 16 years old when she first joined an MMF local  south of Boissevain. It is incredible to see how far the organization  has come since its launch in 1967, she said.

The MMF has faced adversity over the years that has taken hard  work and dedication to overcome, LaPlante said, but the end result has  been the empowering experience of forging treaty rights and  self-governance.

“When it’s in your heart. When it’s your people. When you’re  telling your story and you want to make life better for people, you  really get caught up in that and I think  it becomes a part of who you  are.”

The Manitoba Metis Recognition and Implementation Agreement  marks a moment of empowerment for Metis citizens, she said, and younger  generations that are taking up the mantle from their parents who have  been fighting for these rights for many years.

She was impressed by the number of young people who attended  the assembly and who were engaged in fighting for the future of Metis  citizens.

Young people are essential Metis citizens, she said, as they  will carry the MMF forward into the future while listening to elders to  understand the stories of the past. They need to know the struggle that  happened so they can see where they want to go.

“It’s the perfect learning experience for teenagers to be there sitting and listening and asking questions.”

More than 2,000 Metis citizens attended the assembly in person  at Assiniboine Downs over the weekend. Despite most COVID-19 pandemic  health measures being lifted across Manitoba, the organization continues  to emphasize the safety of its citizens, including proof of  vaccination, masking and sanitation at the meeting.

LaPlante is part of the team of ministers involved with  justice, constitution, natural resources and citizenship that has been  working on constitutional changes for the last couple of years. The  final product of the federation’s approved resolutions will recognize  the MMF as the pre-existing democratic representative government of the  Manitoba Metis, which has the responsibility of providing responsible  and accountable self-government to its Red River Metis citizens.

“We’re going to grow in a very big way, there are exciting times ahead.”

 Chelsea Kemp is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the  Brandon Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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