I was honoured to participate in this year’s AGA for the Métis Nation of Ontario. The wonderful contribution of so many Métis entertainers and the moving traditional arrival of Voyageur canoes were truly inspiring.
The work of the Métis Nation of Ontario to protect and preserve the distinct culture and heritage of Métis is so important. And much more must be done by the Government of Canada to support these efforts and commemorate the fundamental role Métis Canadians have played in our shared history. Just one example is that, despite all the government supported activities this year celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the role of Métis in this pivotal part of Canadian history has not been as widely recognized as it should be. We must do so much more to facilitate Métis efforts to reclaim their languages, cultural practices and heritage.
We know that health outcomes are related to secure personal cultural identity. I remember Bill Mussell from the Native Mental Health Association explaining to me the importance of a secure personal cultural identity and how that builds self-esteem and resilience to be able to cope when bad things happen to good people. However, this is not simply true for health outcomes, but impacts education, employment and a host of other social determinants.
And getting this right is important for all Canadians, not just Métis!
In 2006, over one-third of people – almost 390,000 – who identified themselves as an Aboriginal person reported that they were Métis. Between 1996 and 2006 the Métis population in Canada grew by 91%. This growing segment of our population – and tremendous resource – must not be overlooked!
There were about 73,000 Métis people here in Ontario in 2006 – about 30 per cent of the province’s total Aboriginal population – and this number is likely much larger now. The Métis are the fastest growing of any segment of the Ontario population today.
But there are challenges and opportunities we must all tackle together. Métis adults of core working age are still less likely to be employed than the non-Aboriginal population and, while Métis post secondary attainment is on the rise, it is still below that of the non-Aboriginal population.
When we continue to see high unemployment for all Canadians at the same time as unacceptable shortages of skilled workers, it is inconceivable that the Conservative government still refuses to make the investments necessary to tap the tremendous human resource of Métis youth.
52% of the Métis population is under 19 years of age. Despite this, the Conservative government has effectively turned its back on this tremendous resource and potential source of future prosperity for all Canadians. The federal government must show the necessary leadership to address the need to increase education funding for Aboriginal students – First Nations, Inuit AND Métis. Education funding must also be responsive to the specific needs of Métis peoples.
The federal government must consider ways to ensure Métis have better access to post-secondary training, including the creation of a national scholarship and bursary fund for Métis. However, this must be designed in partnership and in close consultation with Métis.
They must also deal with the injustice of the Residential School issue ….so many Metis …not included on the LIST of schools…..
and the role of Metis in the War of 1812 ….. here in Sault Ste Marie…..The Metis fought and won Fort Mackinac….when Canada loDrummond Island in Treaty of Ghent…. the islanders and the First Nations … were relocated … rather than have to live with the people that they had been fighting against for 2 years …. the Metis got nothing
I was proud to represent the Liberal Party of Canada at such an important and successful event and I look forward to working closely with the Métis Nation of Ontario on promoting Métis culture and improving outcomes for Métis Canadian
and proud to speak about the need for aboriginal education for non-aboriginals…… eradicaiting the ignorance…