For the Lakeside Leader
A local Métis leader is pleased about funding to enhance Indigenous communities announced in the recent federal budget. Métis Settlements General Council President Gerald Cunningham of East Prairie says the funding is welcome.
“We will enthusiastically pursue every opportunity to improve the quality of life for our Métis Settlements members,” he says.
The Feb. 27 budget committed $1.3 billion for First Nations child and family services.
Another figure was $172.6 million over three years for clean drinking water, on top of $1.8 billion in 2016.
Cunningham notes several key funding points.
The Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program will provide $225 million over five years and $67 million per year for Métis people. Cunningham says this will help members gain skills and find jobs.
In addition, says Cunningham, “Services supported by the program, such as child care, will ensure that Indigenous women will have equal access to skills development and training, opportunities so they are able to contribute more fully to the economic success of their communities.”
The government also proposes to invest $5 billion over five years to ensure that Indigenous children and families have an equal chance to succeed in life; also to build the capacity of Indigenous governments and to accelerate self-determination and self-government agreements based on the recognition and implementation of rights.
Cunningham says Métis will benefit from funding to advance reconciliation, to support the well-being of children in foster care, for health programs, housing and education.
The government also proposes to invest $51.4 million over the next two years to support federal and Indigenous participation in the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination.
Cunningham further states the key benefit of the budget is the government’s recognition of a formal relationship with Métis people.
“For the Métis settlements, this sends a strong signal that this government is taking our MOU (memorandum of understanding) seriously,” Cunningham says.
However, Cunning- ham has some concerns about the budget.
“While we appreciate that the government is making financial commitments… I am very disappointed that the Métis Settlements have not been identified as a key stakeholder.”