The Metis Nation to build Their Museum
Announced at the time of the Manitoba Metis Federation’s Annual General Meeting, the Federal Government support for the future Metis National Heritage Centre marks an important milestone in this unifying project for the Metis people.
To see their smiles when they appeared on stage at the Pantages Theatre at the height of the Metis musical evening on September 22, 2017, it was obvious that the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, and the MMF President, David Chartrand, had excellent news to announce to the public.
In fact while the Minister had a few souvenirs to share with her hosts, she saved her biggest gift for the Metis people was the Federal Government’s $2.7 million contribution in support for the construction of the future Metis National Heritage Centre.
In its current version, this project, which is unique in Canada, began taking shape in 2014. Plans are to do the sod turning and construction next year on the Upper Fort Garry site. Which is no accident, as David Chartrand reminds us: “This site is at the heart of our Metis history, on the banks of the Red River which gave rise to the Nation and the Provisional Government of Louis Riel. It would be inconceivable to think of having a Heritage Centre designed to showcase the role of the Metis in Canadian history, anywhere but in Red River: the Birthplace of the Metis Nation and the Heart of the Metis Nation Homeland.”
Led by the MMF on behalf of the Metis Nation, the $4.8 million future heritage centre will encompass 6,000 square feet, 4,000 of which will be display areas for showcasing the history, heritage, language, culture and contribution of the Metis from prior to the time of the Red River Settlement up to today.
Already the MMF is pleased to soon be able to include, as part of its future permanent collection, a true treasure maintained up to now by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: the crucifix that belonged to Louis Riel, his hunting knife and his poetry collection.
A repatriation which Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau, himself Metis, views as the symbol of a new beginning in the relationship between the RCMP and the Metis Nation, as he outlined during the signing of the agreement to restore them to the Metis People. Currently, these historical objects are held in Regina by the RCMP. Once the heritage centre opens in Winnipeg, they will join with other artifacts carefully collected by the MMF over the years, like so many silent witnesses to its past.