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Manitoba Metis Federation slams provincial government over lack of input into COVID vaccination plan

The Manitoba Métis Community and the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) have been shut out of critical participation in Manitoba’s rollout of the vaccine and of yet, has not participated in any kind of token engagement with the province, the MMF says.

While the Manitoba Government has invited the federation to participate in discussions of limited scope, it has failed to involve the MMF in any meaningful way.

There has also been no data-sharing agreement with the provincial government despite numerous requests by the MMF.

“Despite what Pallister’s officials suggest, we haven’t been engaged in a plan to deliver any vaccines to the Manitoba Métis,” said the MMF President David Chartrand in a news release.

“How can we provide support to communication and infrastructure for a vaccine rollout to our people when we don’t know the basics? Where are the vaccines for the Métis people? How many are there? When will they be delivered? How will our population be identified? The province has no data on our Citizens and has long refused to sign a data-sharing agreement with us.”

The federation believes that the current province’s vaccination plan does not address the lack of priority for the Métis Nation’s vulnerable Citizens and Elders.

With no concrete plan in place, the Manitoba Métis Community feels as though they have been abandoned by the provincial government.

“The Province of Manitoba has missed its mark on the Métis Citizens. Our Elders and our vulnerable have been calling our office to find out what the plan is from the Métis government,” said MMF Minister of Health and Wellness Frances Chartrand on Friday.

“However, the province presently holds the strings regarding the vaccine, and until they start working with us, we have no plan. Because of this, we have to keep reassuring our citizens that we are still trying to get Manitoba to recognize that the Métis should be included in the rollout plan.”

Frances noted that as there is no data-sharing agreement between the province and the Métis, most of the information they received about their people’s COVID-19 rates is through word of mouth.

Last Friday, Frances was invited to a communications meeting with the province. During the meeting, the province wanted to know how the MMF will roll out the vaccine to its community.

“When we went in the meeting, we thought that it was a foot in the door for us to work together, but all they wanted was to know our vaccination plan,” said Frances.

“The province did not provide any information on how many vaccines will be allocated to the Métis citizens or the number of positive cases within our community. It was just a ploy to prove that they had consulted with the Métis government.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Indigenous and Northern Relations said that invitations were extended to the MMF regarding access to Manitoba’s vaccination sites and participation with the Indigenous Vaccination Communications Working Group.

“The province has also reached out to encourage the development of an information-sharing agreement, and provincial officials have been regularly engaged with staff from the MMF regarding COVID-19,” said the spokesperson.

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“MMF staffs have been regular and active participants of weekly meetings at the provincial Indigenous COVID-19 collaboration table to address specific to First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Although the MMF has declined to participate in an information-sharing agreement, their engagement with provincial health officials regarding the response to COVID-19 is demonstrable.”

Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
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