Metis Nation of Alberta President Audrey Poitras announced Phase Two of the organization’s COVID-19 Support Plan in a video message May 11 to MNA citizens.
That support includes a $1.8 million top up to the Citizens, Family and Seniors Direct Support Program. That means each MNA regional office has received an additional $300,000 each to continue support for their communities, she said.
Phase One of that support program, announced April 6, provided such help as gift cards for food purchases and support with utility bill payments, plus funding totalling $2.8 million in payments through the Child Wellness Benefit, a program that saw a “huge response”, Poitras explained.
Poitras said in the second phase, regional offices will each now be hiring their own support liaisons to help field inquiries, process applications and identify local needs.
“These contract positions and the funding top-up are the result of federal dollars received by the MNA.”
Poitras said the MNA has taken steps to protect Metis-owned businesses. MNA and Rupertsland Institute have provided the Metis lending institute Apeetogoson $500,000 and $750,000 respectively which Apeetogoson will match for a total of $2.5 million.
“This much needed support will provide hundreds of Metis business owners the means to survive so they can resume their services when restrictions are lifted.”
There will also be $500,000 going to Metis Crossing, a cultural interpretive centre in Alberta, in order to keep essential staff, cover overhead costs, and continue strategic planning for a grand opening and future events.
Poitras said the MNA has procured 150,000 masks and gloves for the protection of Metis citizens and MNA staff during this second wave of financial supports, distribution of which has begun to regions and locals.
Poitras said Metis citizens have been “severely impacted” by the pandemic.
“Our nation has risen to this challenge,” she said, and “we will continue to help one another and keep Alberta safe.”
The beginning of her message recounted the challenges some Metis communities have been facing, including “devastating floods and evacuation orders” in the Fort McMurray and Fort Vermilion communities where many Metis live and work.
“These have been called once in a lifetime floods. Many in our communities have been impacted.”
Funding was provided to support Metis citizens impacted by these floods, including to MNA Region 1, which received $90,000 and Region 6, which received $60,000, Poitras said.
There was also a delivery of 6,000 bottles of drinking water delivered to the Metis community in Fort McMurray dealing with a boil water advisory, “an emergency situation that has been complicated by the pandemic.”
She warned that though the province has announced a “promising” re-launch strategy to re-open the Alberta economy, “the virus is still very much present and we must continue to be diligent.”
She urged Metis to continue to follow physical distancing measures to keep the cases of COVID down in the province.
To watch the MNA president's full address go to https://youtu.be/jSwIX-JQKpY