The Métis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre deals in history, but if it doesn’t raise some cash soon, it may soon be relegated to it.
Created in 1995, the non-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and promotion of Métis history, providing affordable genealogy services to people attempting to find proof of their Métis ancestry.
Located at 410 McGregor St., the Métis Resource Centre is also home to a Métis-specific library and a retail store, which sells such things as Métis sashes and music.
Métis Resource Centre genealogist Randy Ranville said the organization is short on funds, so short that if emergency funding isn’t in place by the end of June, the centre could close.
"We have to keep our doors open somehow, so we’re making a plea in the form of a petition. We’re up to about 1,000 names now in community support," Ranville said.
"We’re going to be going after some potential funders and what they call bridge funding (short-term funding) which will get us through until we can go for more long-term. We’re going to try and go after corporate funding. We’re already in contact with a few places, insurance companies, trucking companies.
"Our concern is, we haven’t actually seen anything yet to assure us there’s enough money to keep going. Once that happens, we’re out of the woods, but right now, we’re still looking for the support we need to keep the centre going."
In a money-saving move, the Métis Resource Centre moved to the North End from its former Exchange District location in March of last year. Now, the centre is conveniently situated next door to the Manitoba Métis Federation.
"Next door, they process the Métis photo ID card and they can’t do that without proof of Métis ancestry, which is what we do here," Ranville said. "Now, being so closely related, folks can get their proof here and go next door and get their photo taken. It’s a nice process, better than downtown."
Ranville, who has worked at the Métis Resource Centre for seven years, said it’s an "absolute joy" helping people uncover their past.
"We’re told folks feel comfortable here," Ranville said. "When they first find out about their Métis-ness, they feel a comfort here. It’s a spiritual thing to be there when these folks are enlightened about who they are and where they come from."
Métis Resource Centre assistant genealogist Holly Marchuk said the organization’s money shortage has had one unexpected positive outcome.
"One of the really cool things about what’s happening, even though it’s a difficult situation, is we’re actually hearing from the community how much the centre is valued and how important we are to them," Marchuk said.
"You don’t get to hear that all the time. I think people sometimes take the centre for granted, ‘Oh, they’ll always be there.’ But, we’ll pull through."
"We have for 300 to 400 years now," Ranville added.
"Yeah, it’s hard to keep the Métis down," Marchuk said.
The petition to save the Métis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre is available at the centre or online at www.thepetitionsite.com/646/210/158/save-the-Metis-culture-heritage-resource-centre