Manitoba Metis Federation citizenship cards can soon be used at liquor stores
Manitoba is expanding the types of identification acceptable for use to purchase liquor, cannabis and lottery tickets in the province.
In a news release sent Thursday afternoon, the province said Manitoba Metis Federation citizenship cards will soon be used as a primary form of identification at liquor and cannabis stores, along with stores that sell lottery tickets.
“The Manitoba government is continuing to advance reconciliation and honour the vital contributions of the Red River Métis in shaping Manitoba’s history and culture,” said Premier Heather Stefanson in a news release. “These changes will remove barriers for Indigenous Peoples to access products and services such as those regulated by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.”
The cards include holographic images, along with the person’s photo, birthday and other information to verify their identity. They have also been recognized by Elections Canada and Elections Manitoba as acceptable identification to vote in elections.
According to the province, there are approximately 47,000 people registered as Metis in the province.
Inside of RJ Kusmack’s cannabis shop, he smiles at the thought of being able to accept MMF cards, saying “it’s about time.”
Nods to Kusmack’s Metis heritage are found inside his store, Fiddler’s Green Cannabis Company, but he currently can’t use MMF cards to verify customer ages.
Kusmack can vote in elections with his Manitoba Metis Federation card - but can't use it to buy age-restricted products in Manitoba.
"We could choose our (prime minister) but we couldn't go to the wine store to buy a bottle of wine for our spaghetti."
Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand tried it for himself.
"I don’t drink but I wanted to see what the reaction would be,” he said, noting his MMF card didn’t work. “We heard outcries from some of our citizens standing up - and I commend them on that - feeling and expressing their feelings of total discrimination."
Now - places regulated by Liquor Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba says MMF cards could be recognized as soon as the end of spring.
Alison Mitchell, the communications manager for the authority says it is in the works.
''The LGCA is working on what we're calling a liquor modernization initiative, which is Bill 7, which is before the house right now."
Kusmack is glad to hear the news.
"It’s great. It’s a step towards reconciliation as well in my option,” Kusmack said.
Chartrand says the announcement is significant for Metis identity, which he says many people are reclaiming.
"Our citizens also want to be respected for who they are. They are proud Metis,” he said.
Kusmack is looking forward to the day he can recognize MMF cards at his Metis shop.
"It's going to be a good day. Smiles all around,” he said. “We employ Metis and Indigenous staff. As a collective we are going to be happy to see it come together."
Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says it is advocating for this change.
"Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries recognizes the importance of allowing the Manitoba Métis Federation Citizenship (MMF) card to be used as a primary form of identification to enter and shop in our Liquor Marts," a spokesperson says in a statement to CTV News.
"We have tested the current MMF cards with the latest security features and are in the process of updating our internal policies and procedures in anticipation of this change, though we do not have a start date just yet."
Chartrand says he wants other institutions such as banks and airlines to take note of this provincial change and allow MMF cards to be used as official identification.
"We want to make it very clear to them," Chartrand said. "Look at us, give us the respect we deserve. And we're a government."
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