SASKATOON — May was a bustling month for Métis Nation-Saskatchewan as it hosted its inaugural Métis Rights Conference 2023 Youth Workshop and recently concluded the 2023 Spring Métis Nation Legislative Assembly.
During the workshop, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples took center stage as Métis youth delved into understanding the significance of this document and their increased involvement in MN-S affairs.
President Glenn McCallum, who spearheaded the MN-S delegation at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, expressed optimism that more Métis youngsters would actively participate and eventually assume leadership roles within their government.
"They [Métis youth] need to be involved. As I have always maintained, it took some time for people to have faith in establishing a structure since I assumed the presidency six years ago. We require a different approach to propel our initiatives and effect change," McCallum shared with SASKTODAY.
McCallum further highlighted the alterations brought about by the agreements signed with the federal government under Section 35, emphasizing the care provided for youth rights and their enhanced access to education. Currently, 26 students are pursuing their post-secondary degrees at the University of Saskatchewan.
Additionally, he commended Métis Nation Youth President Autumn Laing-LaRose for her exceptional efforts in engaging and involving young individuals in governmental affairs, thereby instilling a sense of responsibility in the next generation.
Efforts are also underway to finalize the construction of the Gabriel Dumont Lodge in Batoche, initiated in April. This facility will serve as a center for Métis youth to learn their ancestral language and traditions, thereby preserving their unique culture.
McCallum emphasized the significance of the Dumont and Riel Scout programs housed within the Dumont building, which play a vital role in educating younger generations about their identity, culture, values, and language.
"These young individuals, presently engaged in education, will ultimately secure the careers and jobs they aspire to. They understand that their government will support them. We are advancing and progressing," he said.
McCallum acknowledged the considerable strides achieved by MN-S through the collective efforts of past and present leaders. Currently boasting nearly 200 employees, the organization operates three offices in the city and regional offices catering to Métis communities across the province.
McCallum assured Métis youth that the current leadership and elders of the Métis Nation would continue to guide the forthcoming generation of leaders, urging Laing-LaRose to spearhead the drive for active involvement.
"The involvement of our youth is crucial. Our youth president, Autumn, must lead the way, and she has embraced the challenge. When Métis youth actively participate and voice their opinions, our leaders and elders pay heed," said McCallum.
He further stressed the need for Métis youngsters to vocalize their thoughts and engage in meaningful conversations with leaders and elders, urging them to absorb historical knowledge from their predecessors, including the events in Batoche and the influential figures of Dumont and Louis Riel.
In late May, MN-S also conducted its Spring 2023 MNLA, which focused on self-governance, harvesting, child and family services, and passing a balanced budget. These discussions signify the Métis people's ongoing efforts to foster relationships with community partners and the government as they forge ahead.