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MMF lights up Manitoba sky to celebrate 150 years


On July 15 the provincial sky was lit up with fireworks for the Manitoba Metis Federation’s (MMF) province-wide celebration of Manitoba’s 150th birthday and the next day social media was lit up with posts from people who loved it.
For MMF President David Chartrand, the first-of-its-kind celebration was a much-needed break during a spring and summer that has seen everything from the Jets and Bombers to Canada Day shelved due to the Coronavirus.
Chartrand and the MMF planned the province-wide events to recognize the historical day – the day Manitoba officially became the fifth province to join Confederation and the only province to do so under the governance of an Indigenous Nation.
“We wanted to do something during this COVID era to bring people a sense of relief,” Chartrand said.
“COVID is not over, it’s still here and I believe it’s going to change us all for years to come, but we still need to celebrate our province and the milestone of 150 years. July 15 was the perfect day to set aside all of our problems and differences and just be proud of who we are, proud of our families, our communities and our province and have the chance to watch fireworks as a family.”
The firework celebrations took place at 10:45 p.m. everywhere from Winnipeg to Churchill and countless communities in between, including locally in Minitonas. With COVID in mind, people were encouraged to watch from their vehicles or their homes, or watch as the fireworks were streamed live online and rerun throughout the next day.
The goal, Chartrand said, was simply to give people a moment to feel good and to celebrate a date that changed the course of history for Western Canada.
Kelly Guille, President of Archangel Fireworks Inc., welcomed the challenge of coordinating a show that took place from one end of the province to the other.
“I was extremely excited when we received the call to work with MMF to produce these shows,” Guille said.
“The tight timeline was challenging and I knew it would be but we have a great team, we have worked in many of the places before and we know how to get results fast.”
He said at a time when many have been impacted by COVID-19, the work was much appreciated.
“The income could not come at a better time for us. Getting through until groups can officially gather will be the biggest challenge I have ever faced in our 30 some years,” he said.
“Archangel’s revenues are 75 percent during summer months and COVID hit at the very worst time for our industry. Being able to hire our casual crew members for a few days feels awesome too.
“Secondly, it’s the joy that is spread when communities can share in something like this after such prolonged time apart, even from their next door neighbours. To know that someone in Churchill was smiling at the same time as someone in Dauphin and The Pas and Portage La Prairie and Marquette and Winnipeg, and and and…… This type of event is a gift to all Manitobans and I hope it was felt by all who could enjoy even a little spark from their backyard while knowing the scope of what was going on.”
Though it would have been nice to be able to physically bring people together for the event, Chartrand said it was important to proceed even with social distancing protocols in place.
“Obviously you can celebrate things at anytime, but as a culture we emphasize milestones like 25 years, 50 years, and so in this case, 150 years is a big deal and we didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” he said.
“There are many of us who won’t be around 50 years from now and it was necessary to celebrate, and during this time maybe even more important, to remind everyone of the pride we should have as Manitobans, as a province that has embraced all society.”

Jeremy Bergen