The Manitoba Metis Foundation (MMF) has a new home in Flin Flon.
The organization, which represents Manitoba’s Metis population, opened doors and cut a ribbon to formally open the MMF’s new Flin Flon suboffice May 14. The building has been renovated during the pandemic, taking it from a former phone and electronic store to a more dedicated space.
Judy Mayer, MMF regional vice president, said that the office would allow people in Flin Flon or other nearby communities opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be easily available.
“We’re very excited to be officially opening our office here,” she said.
“We do have a main office in The Pas, but we do realize that not everybody’s world revolves around The Pas and a lot of our community members travel to Flin Flon - it’s their main area for the hospital, groceries and that.”
Mayer said that the organization plans to expand its presence in Flin Flon and the surrounding area. A local subgroup of the MMF meets often throughout the year, but the office means that services and programs specifically for Metis people, including receiving Metis citizenship cards, can be done quickly and locally.
“This is a good opportunity. We want to be visible in this community,” said Mayer.
Local leaders were on hand to sing the MMF’s praises and their excitement for the new opening.
“We're looking forward to a continued good relationship and maybe some really, really active partnerships with the community. We're very excited about this. It's a good shot in the arm for Main Street as well,” said Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley.
MLA Tom Lindsey quipped that his constituency office being a couple doors down on Main Street could lead to the MMF and him working closer together.
“I look forward to many years of your advocacy for your people and together we can make things better. Welcome,” he said.
MMF president David Chartrand spoke during the official opening, mentioning his own background in the area - having worked briefly at the Flin Flon mine as a young man and spending time around Cranberry Portage, his wife’s hometown - before emphasizing how important a step opening the Flin Flon office was for the group.
“The north needs help in different things. This investment you're seeing here is just the beginning of many best investments we're going to be doing,” he said.
To top it off, Chartrand even presented office staff with a gift - a full three-dimensional relief of the MMF logo, complete with crossed rifles and the bison head centrally located.
The new office also works as a statement piece for the MMF, as the group plans for it to serve people in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan communities. Despite the MMF being almost exclusively a Manitoba group, it plans to expand services and programs outside the province, including through western Canada and through Saskatchewan.
“As we expand our boundaries, representing all the Red River Metis all around Canada wherever they live, it’s an opportunity because we’re on the border and we have a lot of citizens in Creighton. We wanted to make sure we had a place for you to come to instead of having to drive all the way to The Pas,” Mayer said.
Chartrand confirmed this, saying that the organization hoped to assist Metis people outside Manitoba as much as possible.
“People may not realize this, but we have no more borderlines. The Province of Manitoba is now no longer just the responsibility of the Metis government - the government covers all the prairies,” Chartrand said.
“The borderlines have been removed - if you’re a Metis citizen living in Saskatchewan or Alberta, in Creighton or Denare Beach, you’ll be included.”
More plans about the MMF’s ideas for cross-provincial partnership either have not been announced or haven’t been formulated.
“We are going to be announcing this year that we're going to start providing services for people that live everywhere. That's going to be a big challenge for us, number-wise, financial wise, but we're going to include that because we're getting a lot of calls,” Chartrand said.
“I think there's over 2,000 people that have applied for their citizenship card already, and more of them are rolling in like crazy from the prairies.”
That commitment even stretches south of the border.
“We are going to be announcing services that are going to go all through the west and the United States,” Chartrand confirmed.