Winnipeg, Manitoba (November 14, 2010) – The junction of two rivers, in the heart of Winnipeg, was the site today of a special commemoration ceremony for Canada's Métis. The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Shelly Glover, Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface and the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Duncan, joined Métis leaders at the Forks to pay tribute to 2010: the Year of the Métis.
The Forks, the national historic site located at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, was the ideal location to highlight years of rich history for both First Nations and the Métis. Minister Duncan and Parliamentary Secretary Glover enjoyed Métis cultural activities and helped to unveil a Year of the Métis commemorative medallion.
"Our Government is proud to be part of this celebration, which provides an opportunity to recognize the important contribution made by the Métis to our country's history, culture and economy. The unveiling of the Year of the Métis commemorative medallion signifies the importance of Canada's ongoing partnership with the Métis," said Minister Duncan.
The Year of the Métis medallion precedes the anniversary of Louis Riel's death on November 16. Louis Riel, considered one of the first great Métis leaders, is remembered today by many as a hero, defender of Métis rights and father of Manitoba.
Mrs. Glover, who is a Métis from Manitoba, told the audience, "Today, we, as Métis, are guided by the spirit of our ancestors and today we stand here proud of our history, language and culture. The Year of the Métis medallion highlights a legacy of accomplishments for the Métis."
President Bruce Dumont, Métis National Council's Minister for Culture, Heritage and Language said,"2010, the Year of the Métis Nation, will go down in the hearts and minds of Métis across the homeland as a time to cherish. It was a year that was filled with excitement beginning with the Métis Nation's active participation in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Batoche to today's special unveiling of the Year of the Métis medallion for which we are truly grateful to the Government of Canada."
"Though often misunderstood, Louis Riel championed equality rights, Aboriginal self-determination and even free trade for all the people of Western Canada long before mainstream governments began to see the value of these concepts," said Eric Robinson, Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs for Manitoba. "It is appropriate that this medallion is being unveiled here in Riel's home province to honour these contributions."
"We are pleased to learn that the Canadian government has proclaimed 2010 the Year of the Métis," said Gabriel Dufault, President of L'Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba. "We are also heartened by the fact that the unveiling of the commemorative medallion this year coincides with the 140th anniversary of our province of Manitoba."
Minister Duncan added, "A year ago, my predecessor, the Honourable Chuck Strahl travelled with Métis veterans to Juno Beach to unveil a Red River Cart at the Canada Centre in recognition of their contributions and sacrifices in the battle to liberate Europe. Last December, Minister Strahl hosted the first Métis Economic Development Symposium aimed at identifying and building economic development opportunities to enable Métis to become full and active partners in Canada's economic future. I'm looking forward to continuing that important work when we meet again early in the New Year."
In July, Minister Duncan, Parliamentary Secretary at that time, represented the Government of Canada at Back to Batoche Days near Saskatoon. There, he made opening remarks, untied a sash leading to a Métis Veterans Garden and participated in the commemoration of the newly erected Memorial Gate, located at the Batoche cemetery, in honour of all of those who fought and died during the battles of Batoche, Fish Creek and Duck Lake 125 years ago.
Canada and Métis relations entered a new era in 2010 and as the year draws to a close, the Government of Canada looks to 2011 and beyond to continue moving forward with the Métis National Council and the provincial associations in addressing the key priorities set out in the Canada-Métis Nation Protocol.
For further information on Métis achievements.
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