A growing collective of Métis people in Manitoba are raising concerns about the decisions the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has been making.
Red River Echoes first spoke out after the MMF took out full page advertisements in Winnipeg newspapers, commending the Winnipeg Police Service.
Seraph-Eden Carr is a member of the collective. She says the “flowery” ads came as a surprise, especially when “Indigenous people, including Métis people are often at the end of a billy club.”
Breanne Lavallee-Heckert felt the ads were shocking, especially while there are calls for justice for the family of Eishia Hudson, a 16 year-old who was shot and killed by a Winnipeg police officer in April 2020.
“I don’t know how any Indigenous person drives by the corner where she was murdered and doesn’t feel something,” says Lavallee-Heckert.
“There’s really a piece of our heart that is missing as Métis people if the death of an Anishinaabe, young women doesn’t get to us and I think that’s really what it is for me,” says Lavallee-Heckert on the latest edition of Face to Face.
“I was reminded of Tina Fontaine. I was just a teenager when Tina Fontaine was found and that changed my life and how I was going to see myself as a young Métis person. And I’m sure for many, young Métis people out there right now, Eishia Hudson was that moment and our government was supporting the police, instead of supporting Eishia,” says Lavallee-Heckert.
While the endorsement of the Winnipeg police may have been the tipping point, Red River Echoes points to a growing list of statements by Chartrand they say are “out of touch with many of its members.”
In the March 18 open letter to MMF leadership, the collective wrote raised concerns about MMF “statements against Wet’suwet’en solidarity; dismissing calls to change the names of buildings named after people who killed and hurt Indigenous people; and their decision to force houseless people living near the MMF building to move somewhere else instead of offering them help and support.”
According to Carr, “it’s not about wanting to fight the MMF.
“It’s not about wanting to make president Chartrand illegitimate. None of us want to become president, that’s not what this was about. It was to shine a light on the fact that there are many, many, many members of the Métis Nation across Manitoba that are not being heard.
“That feel they are actively, not just being heard but actively silenced,” says Carr.
At the recent MMF annual general assembly, Chartrand appeared to take aim at Red River Echoes.
Chartrand said “for those out there who want to criticize our system, our government, our design they can go to hell because our people work hard to develop it.”
Carr says most of what Chartrand had to say at the meeting was “untrue.”
However, Red River Echoes would like to see changes to the constitution of the MMF around who is eligible to run for President.
Changes that were ratified in 2017, mean in order to be able to stand for election for president of the MMF, a member must have held office for at least three years as either chairperson, vice-chairperson, or secretary-treasurer of an active local, or have held office for at least three years as a regional board member of Infinity Women Secretariat Inc.
They must also have held office for at least three years as either a regional board member or regional vice-president, or as spokeswoman of Infinity Women Secretariat Inc.
“What we want is a return to a more traditional Métis style of governance as opposed to running our government like a corporation. And somewhat at this point after a quarter of a century like an oligarchy. So, telling us to go to hell, getting angry at us, I’m not insulted, we’re not insulted by that. I don’t feel bad,” says Carr.
The MMF did not respond directly to questions about Red River Echoes.
In an email, a spokesperson said “we appreciate that the Nation’s Youth have a desire to actively participate in our government – we encourage this. If they have issues they feel should be raised, we urge them to connect with their Locals to learn more and become involved.”
The MMF will be holding its next Aga in the fall and debate a series of resolutions.