MMF e-Talk - May, 2011
Article List :
- Message from the president
- RCMP and MMF secure Metis Community Initiatives Coordinator position
- Metis students becoming storytellers with 'New Voices'
- MMF Regions promoting Membership
- Louis Riel Institute promotes Metis history at Heritage Fair
- MMF's new Harvester tags
- Caring for Our Communities
- Metis Business is Booming!
- Aboriginal sculptures unveiled to inspire students
- MMF Media Releases
- MMF Community Events
The threats of floodwaters to the homes of many of our Metis families is a reminder of the nature of our Metis Homeland. In St. Lazare, many have lost the battle in this historic Metis community and our prayers are with all those affected.
But it is from the turbulent waters and unpredictable terrain from which the Metis Nation was born. 141 years ago, Manitoba became a province and a partner in Canada due to the negotiations of a Metis-led government of the people.
May 12th is Manitoba Day and is when we celebrate our entry into Confederation. As Metis, we know that we are tied to the land before we were a part of Canada. The land has made us who we are - fighter, survivors, diplomats and independent - the people who own themselves.
Manitoba's history is our history. Our place in this province and country is being recognized. Just the other day I was proud to see not only the Metis-led provisional government of 1869 in a new Grade Eleven textbook but also our very own Metis Government of today. The differences we are making is becoming more and more apparent.
I also want to congratulate Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his recent election victory. There is much more work to do at the federal level and I look forward to continuing moving forward with the federal government.
Though Mother's Day is recently passed, I want give a thought of appreciation to all Moms in the Metis Nation and, of course, especially my Mom for all she has done for me.
In closing, I encourage our Metis Citizens to shake the hands of a Metis Elder today and thank them for their contributions to the cause. Tell a Metis Veteran their sacrifices still means something today. And each of us to believe in yourself, believe in Metis!
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On May 6th, the Manitoba Metis Federation's (MMF) Metis Justice Institute (MJI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the RCMP to secure the Metis Community Initiatives Coordinator position for an additional five years to help support policing priorities for Metis in Manitoba.
"This is a historic agreement between the MMF and the RCMP," said MMF President David Chartrand. "It is time that we work alongside the RCMP to make Metis citizens in our communities feel safe. This is a first step towards building trust and allowing Metis communities to view the RCMP as an ally in helping to keep our kids out of gangs and away from drugs."
The Metis Community Initiatives Coordinator provides a link between the MMF, the RCMP and the Metis citizens of Manitoba. This partnership works towards addressing policing priorities in Metis communities, identifying gaps and engaging the community to participate in the policing process. The MOU signed on September 12, 2009 was a six month agreement that expired in March, 2010.
"The Communications Memorandum of Understanding is the first of its kind to be signed between a Metis Government and the RCMP," says the Minister of Justice for the MMF Julyda Lagimodiere. "The MOU establishes a relationship that provides the MMF with the ability to assist not only the RCMP in indentify policing concerns of Metis Citizens, but focuses seriously on increasing the visibility of the Metis Community in Manitoba with the RCMP."
"The MMF welcomes the RCMP's Metis Community Initiatives Coordinator to our Justice Team within the Metis Justice Institute," she added.
Corporal Rick Sinclair is pleased to be the new Metis Community Initiatives Coordinator to work with the MMF at the home office in Winnipeg. The MOU establishes a long-term agreement for sharing of information in regards to an incident involving a Metis person(s) that result in a serious offence, injury or death. This will help provide the necessary information to the MMF to determine its involvement in terms of support and advocacy for the individual, family and community.
Corporal Sinclair has worked in many communities across Manitoba including, Portage la Prairie, Dauphin, Thompson and Pukatawagan and says that consultations between the MJI and the RCMP identified policing gaps in Metis communities. "We realized that there were issues of concern from Metis people that need to be addressed," said Corporal Sinclair. "The MOU and this position are a direct result of the concerns by Metis citizens. By creating this position, we hope to give the Metis people an opportunity to be heard and to get involved in the policing procedure."
A fifteen year veteran with the RCMP, Corporal Sinclair says that his years of experience and positions as community liaison and RCMP supervisor will help bridge the gap in relationship building with Metis communities and other detachments of the RCMP. "It is beneficial to have had worked all over Manitoba in many rural communities before starting this position," said Corporal Sinclair. "Having worked throughout the Province gave me an opportunity to build many relationships with RCMP officers and justice officials. I've worked with community leaders, chiefs of council and people all over Manitoba."
"We need to get to know the people, and really understand the communities. We can better serve these communities when we get to know the people who live there," says Corporal Sinclair.
The MJI and the RCMP will work closely to help close those communication gaps, making sure that Metis communities have the information needed on issues that concern them. "Some Metis communities want us to do presentations on Elder abuse, while others want to learn about drug awareness. We create partnerships with other departments within the RCMP to help bring information sessions to the communities."
One of those partnerships is the Aboriginal Shield Program pilot project. The Aboriginal Shield Program is one of the RCMP Drugs and Organized Crime Awareness Services' main initiatives. It is a police assisted, community driven program that helps Aboriginal Youth deal with the effects of substance abuse. It delivers substance use prevention and healthy lifestyle coaching in Canadian Aboriginal Communities. "We coordinate presentations with drug awareness offices for youth in the communities," said Corporal Sinclair. The pilot project was well received in St. Laurent where it was first introduced to a group of elementary school children and will be brought back next year.
Most RCMP will tell you that being in the front line of policing is what they love about their jobs, and Corporal Sinclair is no different. However, the Opaskwayak native is more than accepting of taking on a more supervisory and administrative role if it means making a difference. "This position is making a difference in Metis communities." said Corporal Sinclair. "We're fielding more calls and receiving more inquiries about policing services, there's still a lot of positive work to be done."
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The National Screen Institute (NSI) is Canada's national film, television and digital media training school for writers, directors and producers. In mid April, nine Aboriginal adults began training in the seventh edition of the NSI New Voices film and television program.
The students undergo a fourteen week training program which sees them split time between the classroom and working in the industry with film crews and production companies. Unlike many media programs that hire full-time instructors, the New Voices program is taught as a series of workshops presented by industry professionals. This gives the students a different learning experience than they would receive at some other learning facilities, and the response from the students has been great.
"The industry professionals definitely help out a lot," says Vince Sanderson, a Metis student born in British-Columbia. "It gives you a different perspective than you would get from a conventional teacher. These people currently work in the industry, plus you can make great contacts." The program's condensed schedule forces NSI to cover a lot of subject matter in a short period of time. Sanderson says that this can be overwhelming at times, but also part of the fun of the program. "They give you the skills from day one," he says. "We've covered a lot in the first week; I never thought I would know how to write a screenplay. But now I think of an idea and the work just starts to flow."
Anna–Celestrya Carr is another Metis in the New Voices program. The Vancouver Film School graduate and current University of Manitoba Fine Arts student says that New Voices is an important program for both experienced and inexperienced filmmakers. "It's an industry where you can never have enough education," says Carr. "Technology changes so quickly that you constantly have to update your skills." Carr also says that Aboriginal specific media courses are important for the future of Aboriginal storytelling. "Aboriginal stories have been told many times before, but they should be told from an Aboriginal perspective."
One of the New Voices Program Co-Managers and graduate of the program Sam Vint says New Voices gives its students the tools to succeed in film and TV. "I took the course three years ago," says Vint, who is also Metis. "I have been employed ever since. There is a lot of contract work in the film industry in Winnipeg."
Aboriginal stories are waiting to be told, and the New Voices program is providing a new generation of people to tell them.
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The estimated number of Metis people currently living in Manitoba is approximately 100,000. However, our numbers are not precise as there is no official enumeration process in place. The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has set a deadline of September 1st, 2012 for new members and current members to update their membership status.
An MMF membership will keep you up-to-date on all activities provided by your Metis government, and will help you to stay informed on all the programs and services offered by your Local Executive and Regional Office. The MMF Regional Offices often send out information and notices to their Locals for distribution to its members, keeping you in the loop on all things of interest in your Metis community.
Vice President of the Southwest Region Leah LaPlante and Registry Clerk Trina Sawchuk have been visiting locals in their region and encouraging members to update their new memberships. Vice President LaPlante says that not only are more people coming out and renewing their memberships but those members are also feeling a new sense of Metis pride. "We've said that if we physically go out into the communities that more people will come out and renew memberships," says LaPlante. "There are many reasons why we should renew our membership cards. Proof of Metis ancestry and more current contact information are examples… "
"However, I think the most exciting thing about renewing your membership with the MMF is the fact that it must be done with a genealogy," she says. "There is a certain amount of pride in making that connection to the Metis homeland."
The process for membership is easy and straight forward. The first step is to fill out an application form (which you can download from the MMF website). Next, provide a copy of you birth or baptismal certificate and a genealogy from either the St. Boniface Historical Society or the Metis Resource Centre. You'll also need to provide photocopies of two government issued pieces of identification, provide $10 for the cost of your card, a signature by your local Chair on your application and finally your photo taken at your regional office.
Strengthen the Manitoba Metis community and renew your MMF membership before September 12th, 2012. "This process is encouraging people to research and learn more about their families and ancestors, which naturally leads to learning more about themselves," says VP LaPlante. "As we become more knowledgeable about our past, we become stronger as a Nation."
For all information on how to contact your Regional Office or to download a membership application form visit the MMF Home Office website at mmf.mb.ca.
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Every year hundreds of kids from grade four to nine gather and participate in the Red River Regional Heritage Fair. If you are unfamiliar with what a Heritage Fair is, the best way to describe it would be to say that it is very much like a science fair but for social studies, according to Shirley Delorme-Russell, the Culture and Education Resource Coordinator for the Louis Riel Institute (LRI).
"School's from all over Winnipeg host their own heritage fair, and then the best ones come here to compete in the Red River Regional Heritage Fair," says Delorme-Russell. "Other regions like The Pas and St. Andrews have their own as well, and then the winners go to provincial and even national events." The students have places to set up their booths, they range in subjects from Winnipeg native and NHL star Jonathan Toews to the Buffalo Hunt.
LRI is there to judge the best Metis project. There are a dozen of them and they all get marked on presentation, display, and the information they deliver. "We do a quick little Q and A with them to see if they truly know their project," said Provincial Standing Tall Coordinator Shane Bostrom. "We like to see if they know any extra information other than what is on their board and booth."
The judging of Metis projects is only a small part of the reason why the LRI was at the heritage fair. "We also have a booth set up so that teachers can come by and see what kind of educational resources we can offer them," says Delorme-Russell. "We're here to judge the competition but also to inform. We're teaching workshops as well."
The students spend some of their time giving presentations and being judged for their displays, some time is spent checking out the other booths and in between there are a number of heritage workshops. "We've seen workshops that range from the Depression to the Underground Railroad," said Delorme-Russell. "LRI is doing two separate workshops on the Buffalo Hunt, it's pretty exciting, and the kids love it."
They also offered a presentation on 'Who are the Metis?' "It's really interesting for the kids, but it's quick," she said. "It's four hundred years of history in twenty to twenty-five minutes." The point of the workshop is to inform students more about Metis people, more than what they might have just heard or briefly read online. "We want them to know more than the buffalo hunt, and that we play the fiddle and that Louis Riel has a holiday named after him."
The presence of the Louis Riel Institute at the Red River Regional Heritage fair is important, and the greater the presence they have, the more likely that next year there will be even more Metis themed projects.
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The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Natural Resources Portfolio is dedicated to protecting its Metis harvesters and their Metis rights. One way for the MMF to monitor and protect its registered harvesters will be through the new Harvester Tag system.
These new harvester tags are important for the MMF in regards to promoting best practices and procedures towards conservation and the law of the hunt. Ken Leforte, the Minister of Natural Resources for the MMF says the new tags will help the MMF monitor more closely the species that are being harvested. "These new tags are important for a few reasons," said Leforte. "We are the only Aboriginal group that have a harvester tag system to call our own, and they will help us track what species are being hunted as well as when and where they are hunted."
The old harvester tags were blank. When you caught an animal you simply filed out the information on the tag and sent it back to the MMF so they can monitor which species is being harvested, for conservation purposes. The new tags will help the MMF monitor each harvested species more effectively. By issuing individual tags for each species compared to blank tags that cover any and all species harvested. "We can now determine how many of each animal harvesters can hunt before they even go hunting," said Leforte. "That way if someone comes to us and asks for three harvester tags, we can issue a certain number per animal, it's a more user friendly system for the MMF and for the harvesters. It helps us to be good conservationists."
With the third edition of the Law of the Hunt due out soon, the new MMF harvester Tags are even more essential. The new tags will help determine the number of Big Game hunters in each MMF Region. "This new system will show other conservation organizations like the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and the government that the Metis harvesters are responsible," says Leforte. "We only hunt what we need."
To date, we have close to 1500 registered harvesters within our province, and the MMF is expecting to send out their harvesting surveys by early 2012. The Harvesting Clerks in all Regions will talk to each harvester about where, when and what they hunted for each harvest throughout the year.
Another change the MMF is considering would be to revise the current survey to make it easier to report harvests. "We continue to ask people to report their harvests in the interim," said Leforte. "As the numbers generated from this information help us make good resource management decisions, and it shows that we take conservation of our resources seriously and responsibly."
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In the last edition of Le Metis, we brought you the story of the graduation ceremonies for the successful students of the intense Licensed Practical Nurse program offered through the Manitoba Metis Federation and Assiniboine Community College. In this edition, we had the opportunity to speak to a few of the Graduates to hear firsthand the challenges and rewards they experienced throughout their courses.
Both programs began January 2010 and finished in March of this year with graduations having recently taken place March 31st in Selkirk and April 2nd in The Pas. There were eleven LPN graduates from Cranberry Portage and nineteen successful graduates from Selkirk. For two of those graduates, Valedictorians Lee Ann Yakiwchuk (Cranberry Portage) and Glenda Goerzen (Selkirk) the LPN program was an opportunity to improve their careers and have the chance to work in a field that they love.
"I enjoy helping others and have always been drawn to the caring professions," says Goerzen. "In my past experience I have worked as a respite worker, a Home Support worker, and primarily as an Activity Worker with elders. While working closely with many health care professionals, I have developed an insight and respect for that career. Several of my family members are nurses, and I have been inspired by their dedication," she says.
The idea of becoming a nurse was something Lee Ann Yakiwchuk had thought about before, and with the opportunity to take courses close to home, it was a chance she couldn't pass up. "I have always had an interest in nursing since I was very young and not having to leave my home was very appealing to me," said Yakiwchuk. "The length of the program also caught my interest I was never one to last four or five years at a time in school."
With a condensed curriculum for the LPN training program (15 months compared to 2 to 4 years to become an RN) there are some definite challenges that the graduates had to overcome. "At times it was challenging juggling the demands of raising a family while being a student myself," said Goerzen. "Sometimes it seems everybody has school projects due at the same time. The demanding curriculum resulted in many late nights, and spare time was filled with texts waiting to be read," she said.
Struggles are something that every post-secondary student must face, whether they're just out of high school or in their mid-twenties and raising a family. What is crucial is having a good support staff for the students. "I had my share of struggles through the duration of the program, but with the wonderful support of the program coordinator – Marlyn Fehr, and the instructors and most of all Tracy Como there was never a time that I didn’t think I was not going to make it," said Yakiwchuk. "All things worth doing are hard and build character and this only better prepared me for my future career," she says.
Not only did the MMF help host and administer the program but they also did their part to make sure all aspects of the students educational experience ran smoothly. From counseling when the students were feeling overwhelmed by balancing their personal lives with school, to making sure that tuition and sponsorship payments were accounted for and even offering daycare for those with children. "I was very grateful for the financial support that I received from MMF. It enabled me to go to school and realize my career goals," said Goerzen. "The MMF facilitated all the details from registration, to supplies and texts, right up to graduation. That really streamlined the whole process and made me feel much less intimidated by the thought of going back to school," she says.
"The MMF offered one on one counseling when things were getting too overwhelming, ensuring that sponsorship payments were on time through out the program, provided child care, their involvement was constant and steady and it made a big difference," says Yakiwchuk.
Both Goerzen and Yakiwchuk are looking forward to the next step, joining the workforce, and the two recent LPN's intend to find employment where it is needed most, in the north. "Nursing is an invaluable resource to promote health in the community," said Goerzen. "I want to work in rural Manitoba and am confident that there will be many opportunities to learn and practice my skills as I explore options as a Licensed Practical Nurse."
"I am hoping to find employment in Flin Flon at the hospital or one of the personal care homes. I have lived here all my life so I have no desire to leave, there is high demand and need for competent health care professionals in the north," says Yakiwchuk. "I am truly grateful for this program it has changed my life forever in a positive direction. Had it not been for the MMF running this program in Cranberry Portage I do not believe I would be a nurse now."
Congratulations again to all of the graduates and best of success in their chosen field. If you are interested in pursuing a career in Nursing through the LPN program, please contact your MMF regional office for details.
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It was a much talked about and anticipated event - Metis Business Day was a big success with 49 tradeshow booths and over 400 attendees passing through the doors. The Louis Riel Capital Corporation's (LRCC) Metis Business Day was April 11th at the Victoria Inn Hotel in Winnipeg. The event showcased Metis and other businesses big and small, from Ledcor Group to Etchiboy Aboriginal Products.
Metis Business Day gave all attending businesses and entrepreneurs an opportunity for brand recognition and business to business networking while promoting their products. And few Metis people are better at promoting their products than former Entrepreneur of the Year Arnold Asham.
The man behind the Asham Stompers and the world renowned Asham Curling supplies is here mostly to promote his jigging and dancing apparel along with the popular Asham Stomperfest music festival. "Obviously our business is curling, but it's a seasonal sport," says Asham. "We've been trying to get a summer business going for a while now."
Asham Stomperfest (September 2 – 4, 2011) which is entering its 8th year is a popular event in the Metis community; however Asham would like to make it an even bigger attraction. "It is very important for us to promote our festival to Metis people at events like Metis Business Day, we showcase a lot of Metis entertainment." Stomperfest averages about 2500 concert goers every year, and Asham says that sometimes that translates into a small profit or a small loss.
This year they are looking to hire a full time Executive Director to take the festival and the Stompers to the next level. "We're hoping to have 5000 people visit Stomperfest this year," says the Reedy Creek native. "That would really boost our revenues and help us take the Stompers around the world." The Stompers who usually perform at pow-wows, festivals and Aboriginal conferences are looking to perform and travel the globe full time. "We've already been to Mexico, Las Vegas and other international locations," said Asham. "We do over one-hundred performances a year, and we're looking to do some more."
Asham says that he's starting to gradually remove himself from the curling business, letting his children take over the day-to-day operations. "They're in their 30s now, and if I keep working they'll be in their 50s by the time I retire," says Asham. "I want them to take over while they still have a passion for the business, so that we can continue to grow. I still love curling, but for now I have a new passion, and that's the Stompers."
Another thriving Metis business on display at the tradeshow was Infinity Visual Advertising (IVA) an arms length advertising company developed by the LRCC. IVA already has one video billboard display stationed in Dauphin, just outside the Northwest Metis Council's Regional office. Over ten thousand cars drive by every day and businesses get 720 exposures of their advertisement every twenty-four hours. "For people to get that kind of exposure on a daily basis, you can't get better branding than that," said IVA Marketing Agent Rolly Gagne. "The businesses that are advertising on our billboards are already noticing a big difference in their businesses."
IVA's next step is to erect another video billboard which will be strategically placed at a prime location in Winnipeg. With an average daily traffic count of one-hundred and ten thousand vehicles that pass by every twenty four hours. "The traffic count for our new video display board would be huge," says Gagne. "It would really create some big revenue for us."
IVA will also provide business solutions and consulting to Metis entrepreneurs to make sure these billboards fit their marketing needs. If you would like more information please contact the IVA at 1-855-769-3949 or visit www.ivasigns.ca.
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When the Aboriginal Student Centre opened at the University of Manitoba, it commissioned three sculptures to be created to honour Metis, First Nations and Inuit peoples. On April 4th, the sculptures were unveiled during a ceremony just outside the Aboriginal House located at the U of M.
A large crowd which included Aboriginal dignitaries Leah LaPlante (Vice President of the MMF Southwest Region), Ron Evans (Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs) and Levinia Brown (Inuit Elder) along with David T. Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor of the U of M were on hand for the presentation.
Miguel Joyal, a University of Manitoba Fine Arts graduate and Metis artist was honoured with the opportunity to sculpt the statue of Louis Riel. "I'd like to thank David Chartrand and the Manitoba Metis Federation for giving me the honour to build this statue of Louis Riel," said Joyal. This is Joyal's second sculpture of the iconic Metis leader; his first is set on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. This sculpture of Riel was constructed to show his academic side, with his sash proudly displayed, a textbook in one hand and no pupils so that passers by are to wonder what was going through his mind. "May he inspire not only the Metis and Aboriginal students but all those that walk by," exclaimed Joyal.
Wayne Stranger from Peguis First Nation presented his sculpture 'The Buffalo' to honour the First Nations community and says that his s piece was made to inspire the connection between his people and education. "The Buffalo carries a sense of respect between the First Nations people and education, guiding us in the transition from university to life in the First Nations community."
Abraham Anghik Ruben is the Inuit artist that produced the 'Shaman and Sedna' sculpture to represent the Inuit people and their "re-birth" in the Canadian North. "This sculpture represents the story of a young Inuit from the McKenzie Delta in the North of Canada," said Ruben. "The boy died and was brought back to life by the Shaman; the story is about perseverance which is something that most Aboriginals deal with when attending university."
President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard of the U of M added, "It is an honour to have these artists present to us their Aboriginal sculptures, they add to the beauty of the walkway by the Aboriginal Student Centre."
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Last Updated (Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:39)