MMF Files Complaint to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission Against the Government of Manitoba, Health Minister, and Dr. Roussin
September 11, 2020
Winnipeg, MB – The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) announced today that it has sent a letter to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to file a complaint against the Government of Manitoba, the Honourable Cameron Friesen – Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living – and Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. The complaint states that the Manitoba Métis Community has been subject to discrimination and systemic discrimination by the Manitoba Government as well as Manitoba’s lead health official throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have been more than willing to work with the other Indigenous Peoples of Manitoba, which is great, but what about the Métis Nation?” questioned MMF President David Chartrand. “Dr. Roussin said in the media months ago that the province was prepared to engage with the Manitoba Métis on a data sharing agreement. We sent letters intended to initiate the discussions necessary to reach an agreement with Manitoba, but never received a positive response.”
The MMF notes that it was engaged with Manitoba in early April but was told by the province that self-identification was sufficient evidence of someone being Métis.
“Discussions with the province came to a halt after we requested that Métis Citizens be verified by the MMF. We need to be certain that when we are receiving statistics about Métis Nation Citizens, they are, in fact, Métis Nation Citizens,” said President Chartrand. “Sharing incorrect data created by those who falsely identify as Métis comes with a number of problems. We want to ensure that our resources are being used in an effective way that benefits the Métis Nation and indeed all Manitobans.”
The MMF sent several letters between the months of April and August requesting Manitoba engage in a data sharing agreement whereby the MMF can confirm the identity of those who self-identify as Métis, but never received a formal response.
“Because of the lack of a data sharing agreement, a Métis Nation Citizen could get sick and we have no way of being notified,” said MMF Minister of Health Frances Chartrand. “We have been forced to rely on word of mouth from the Manitoba Métis Community to tell us that a Métis Citizen has contracted COVID-19 and is in need of our support. Any data analyzed by the province using false identifications of Métis would not be useful.”
“The MMF can offer all the programs we want, but they won’t do any good if we are not made aware when our people contract COVID-19,” added President Chartrand. “The province may have abandoned us, but your Manitoba Métis Government has not. If something tragic happens to a Manitoba Métis Citizen because of the province’s negligence, we will be holding them accountable.”
On September 10, at the end of the working day, the MMF’s legal counsel received a letter from Minister Friesen’s office expressing interest in working with the MMF.
“This letter is an eleventh-hour response after months of the MMF trying to get the Minister’s attention. The Minister is grasping at straws. This is clearly a last-minute response to recent media inquiries directed to the Minister’s Office,” explained President Chartrand. “Even so, the letter does not address our concerns over data collection, its quality, or its use, and it does not fix the fact that we have been abandoned by Manitoba since the initial outbreak.”
Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the democratic self-governing political representative for the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community. The Manitoba Métis Community is Canada’s Partner in Confederation and the Founder of the Province of Manitoba.
For media information, please contact:
Manitoba Metis Federation
Email: [email protected]