MMF initiative receives funding boost from feds

Bringing home the spirits of Métis children who never came back from residential schools is the inspiration behind an initiative by the Manitoba Métis Federation, which has received a funding boost of more than $1 million from the federal government.

Last Thursday, federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller announced funding of $1,417,835 for the 2022-24 fiscal years to support Pekeywaytahihnan nutr zanfaan leur zisprii, which translates to ‘we are bringing our children home.’

The MMF initiative is in its first phase of planning.

According to a joint press release from the MMF and the federal government, the next steps for the initiative are forming a survivors committee to guide future initiatives, knowledge gathering, research of archival records, community engagement and commemoration plans.

Helping residential and day school survivors as they continue on their healing journeys is of great importance, MMF President David Chartrand said in the press release. The harm done to the Métis people through both residential and day schools, he added, has long-lasting impacts on families and communities to this day.

Chartrand is calling for all Canadians to recognize that the residential and day school systems, as well as the ’60s Scoop and child welfare system today, were part of “overarching efforts” to erase Métis culture and identity.

“To help our healing and continue to gain strength, it is critical that we honour the memories of our children and families who were lost to us and work toward restoring and revitalizing the rich culture and heritage that was taken from those who survived these systems.”

The work the MMF is undertaking is incredibly important, Miller added in the release, saying survivors know best how to move forward.

“Our government will continue to work with the MMF on these shared priorities as they support their citizens and advance healing.”

The federal government allocated an additional $122 million over the next three years to the Residential School Missing Children’s community support funding program in the 2022 budget. Canada’s total investment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 72 to 76 on residential schools’ missing children and burial information now stands at $238.8 million.

The Sun reached out to Miller’s office for an interview, but was told he was not available.

In response to the Sun’s question about how closely the federal government would be working with the MMF on Pekeywaytahihnan nutr zanfaan leur zisprii, Crown-Indigenous Relations spokesperson Randy Legault-Rankin responded that the federal government recognizes that Indigenous leaders and communities know best way they need.

“We are committed to being there to support them. The approaches to this difficult and important work will be Indigenous-led, survivor-centric and culturally sensitive.”

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun