“Some people want to make an absolute solution, to close down the reserves. The whole thing is ridiculous. The best solution is that which, going in the right direction, makes as few changes as possible. Change is difficult. Make as few changes as possible gives you the most results and that’s what treaty money accomplishes. And by making as few legal changes as possible, you don’t have to make any. Easily defended. And so you’re halfway between the status quo or a complete change – complete closing down of the system. And when the mental virtue of treaty money is that it frees the individual and it gives him the ability to make the decisions – to make his own decisions. It puts him in control; which is what we should want for every man. For every woman. And if you do not give them the money, they cannot do it . As long as you keep the money in the hands of the system, the system will impose its will.”
– Jean Allard
Jean Allard is an honorary member of MAWG (Modernized Annuity Reference Group), a founding co-chair of the Treaty Annuity Working Group, and author of Big Bear’s Treaty: The road to freedom. A significant excerpt of the original manuscript was published in the policy journal Inroads in 2002. Jean had a fiery, short-lived political career representing the vast northern riding of Rupertsland in the government of NDP premier Ed Schreyer after being elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1969. He quit the NDP to sit as an Independent after clashing with the party over Indigenous policy. In 1994, Jean hit upon the idea of modernizing annuities while chained to the statue of Louis Riel to protest its removal from the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. Jean has a long and deep history in Manitoba’s Métis community. He is a direct descendant of Jean Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury (as is Louis Riel). He served 26 years as president of the Union Nationale Métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, the oldest Métis organization in Canada.
Elders are very important members of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities. The term Elder refers to someone who has attained a high degree of understanding of First Nation, Métis, or Inuit history, traditional teachings, ceremonies, and healing practices. Elders have earned the right to pass this knowledge on to others and to give advice and guidance on personal issues, as well as on issues affecting their communities and nations. First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples value their Elders and all older people, and address them with the utmost respect.