On Saturday, March 27, 2021, members of Red River Echoes watched President Chartrand recognize our collective during his virtual State of the Nation address at the Manitoba Metis Federation’s Annual General Assembly. Speaking in disdain about those who are falsely claiming Métis identity, he, in the same breath, attacked our collective of Manitoba Métis. Rather than encouraging our involvement in and passion for our Nation, he reprimanded us.
We are not a threat to the Métis Nation, we are its hope. We are a group of Métis, including young MMF citizens, Local executives, university graduates, students, artists, health care workers, public servants, lawyers in training, and grassroot activists and organizers dedicated to standing with our Indigenous relatives and ensuring democracy in the Métis Nation. Many of us have worked within and alongside the MMF and have family legacies of fighting for Métis rights and justice. Our members have challenged colonial governments without the backing of millions of dollars, a cabinet, or an institution.
We have done our homework; many of us have spent years studying Indigenous and Métis governance, both inside and outside of Western educational institutions. We are calling into question rules that are clearly undemocratic, rules that were implemented only a few years ago. Placing limitations on those who want to present themselves for office ensures that those frustrated and alienated by the MMF must work in a system that silences their voices for years before being able to address changes that are needed.
We understand what is at stake for our future, and want to ensure our Nation’s success. What’s the use of billions of dollars in benefits from the federal government if Métis do not see themselves in their own government? If we are alienated from First Nations relations? Our collective wants true democracy, a return to our traditional ways - including weaning ourselves from the influence and permission of colonial governments.
We take a stand against colonial oppression and violence and ask our leadership to do the same. The Métis Nation must be at the heart of this resistance; our very existence was shaped by it. We deserve leadership that leads equitably, graciously, and with compassion. We need leadership that is not afraid to be challenged, and that sees challenge as an opportunity to become stronger from within. If our government cannot be accountable, if our President cannot be accountable, we will be accountable. We accept the challenge and will rise to it.
Like our ancestors before us, we fight for freedom for our Nation and all of our relations.