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Community investments highlighted at Northwest Metis Council meeting

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Dauphin will soon benefit from investments made by the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF).
At the Northwest Metis Council (NWMC) annual regional meeting, MMF president David Chartrand shared plans for capital expenditures in the community and the province, Aug. 10.
“We’re investing probably about $75 million in capital investments provincewide this year and Dauphin will be receiving a nice chunk of that. It will be probably several million dollars, for sure, just in the structural building,” Chartrand said.
He explained MMF is building an office space, day care centre and pharmacy in Dauphin.
“I know there’s a clinic here, but I’m looking at bringing one to provide more opportunities, especially to the surrounding small villages and Métis communities. We need to make sure that they have the best services possible,” he said.
NWMC has outgrown its office space on First Ave. NW, Chartrand noted, and will be building on property purchased on Main Street.
MMF purchased the Sneath building and the empty lot beside it, he said, and plans are underway to tear down the former funeral home.
NWMC also has property across the street, he added, which was formerly the Mountain View School Division office and now houses Michif Child and Family Services.
Chartrand intends to start construction soon, as vice-president Frances Chartrand has been working on building plans.
“So once the design is finalized, then you’ll start seeing some activity taking place there and hopefully the building started to be erected,” he said adding the goal is to have the buildings open in 2020.
2020 is an important year for MMF, Chartrand pointed out, as it marks 150 years ago, when the Métis brought Manitoba into Confederation.
MMF is investing in many other communities, as well, he said, such as housing in Swan River and daycare centres in smaller communities.
“We put a $5 million investment in St. Laurent, a senior complex with 10 buildings,” Chartrand said.
“We also purchased their golf course in St. Laurent. It’s got 154 acres, so we’re looking at building a campground in that area, also building a state-of-the-art golf club sport complex.”
MMF will also start construction on its national Métis Heritage Centre in Winnipeg this year, he said, as well as offer different activities throughout 2020.
“Given that it’s 150 years since Manitoba became part of Canada and, of course, led by Louis Riel. I’m saddened to say the Premier announced a committee and a working plan to celebrate 2020 but he’s not invited us, the founders.”
As a Métis government, he noted, MMF has been successful with reconciliation from the federal government and Chartrand is aware of the sentiment the funding is a handout, or a waste of money.
“Well Métis pay over $400 million in taxes in Manitoba and we pay two-point-something billion in taxes in Western Canada. So we pay a lot of taxes and we’ve been paying taxes all of our lives,” he said.
“And the sad part is, if you look in our villages there’s never been investment back to all our tax investments. It’s gone somewhere else.”
The funding will go toward addressing issues in Métis communities, he said, such as health care.
“A lot of people probably don’t realize this, we did a four-year study and Métis are in the worst health than anyone else. Worse than First Nations and we’re definitely by far, worse than non-indigenous people,” Chartrand said, noting the problem is Métis communities do not have programs or services.
“Our elders are dying faster than everybody else. That’s why today in our pharmacy, we provide free medicine to our seniors at 65 and over.”
MMF is also putting funding into education, he said, with $21 million invested in universities and post-secondary education expected to grow to $50 million.
“So we’ll be able to now support post-secondary students to make sure they get their degrees and, in fact, they will create jobs, they will come back home, live in our communities, shop in these towns like Dauphin and all around, once jobs are created,” Chartrand said, adding the Métis are playing a big role in the economy.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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