Métis Manitoba Federation looking for a design that will make history

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Métis Manitoba Federation (MMF) recently purchased a historic building in Winnipeg, the Bank of Montreal, on the south-east corner of Portage and Main St., one of Canada’s most popular intersections.

This building will house the Métis Nation Heritage Centre, which is set to celebrate the Métis nation heritage by offering heritage workshops, protection and display of artifacts, photography, as well as traditional and contemporary arts including beadwork, music, dance, painting and clothing design.

To achieve that, the MMF is inviting all Canadians to submit “Journey in the Heart of the Homeland Idea Competition” to submit design ideas for the interior and exterior of the building.

MMF president David Chartrand said they are trying to educate the public on their culture, history, message of governance, the legacy of the Métis nation before, during and after confederation.

“The heritage centre has been in our hearts and minds for a long time. We are finally able to achieve this particular vision and it is about making nation,” Chartrand said.

“We are going to try to display a design of who we were, how we came about and how we evolved and our challenges, attributes and all of the different matters that come in between that. It has been a very tough situation for the Métis and the wars we had to go through to keep our identity and keep our community.”

He added that there is no criteria on who is eligible; anyone who has a vision can submit their design.

The opportunity to make the design is open for everyone including local artisans, architects and design firms. The MMF is looking for the most interactive and well-messaged design that can intrigue a viewer and tell a story at the same time.

Chartrand said the MMF could have easily turned the design job to one of the architectural engineering firms, but they wanted people included in the process before they direct the blue prints to an architectural firm.

“We’re after the idea of what they see in their vision of what can really capture the story of the Métis nation,” Chartrand said. “We’re seeking somebody with some creativity, an artistic mind that will really capture the essence of the message. We don’t expect those who are sending in their designs to be full experts, but to give us the idea of what will fully transpire the story of the Métis nation. That’ll be what we are searching for.”

Chartrand said this is an opportunity for everyone to know more about the Métis nation, their struggles and battles.

“We are not First Nation, we are not Inuit, we are not French, we’re not Scottish, we’re not European,” Chartrand said. “We’re unique people with our own cultural identity, our own collectivity, we had to become very military to survive as a people and so we’ve gone through so many hardships and we still survive and we still get stronger. We are a western-based nation, we come from the west.”

The deadline to apply is on Monday September 28 11:59 p.m. local time. Submissions will be evaluated by a jury. Chartrand said there will be a monetary award, but they are not disclosing the amount. There will also be non-monetary incentives.

Chartrand said whoever designs this and their drawing is accepted, their name will be attached to it.

“I look forward to this heritage centre,” Chartrand said. “It’ll be one of a kind in the world and it is going to be important for us to recognize. It’ll be telling the story of the Métis nation and it’ll be the only of its kind in the world and I look forward to it and for it to last hundreds of years and that people can visit it and get to know who we are.”

To know more about the competition and how to enter, visit www.journeyintheheartofthehomeland.com