Metis Group Eyes Riel House
Rabson, Mia, Winnipeg Free Press
Federation offers to help in funding
OTTAWA -- The Manitoba Metis Federation is looking to take over operations of the Riel House National Historic Site.
MMF president David Chartrand told the Free Press Monday the MMF is working with the federal government to craft a plan.
"We sent a message we'd like to take over Riel House," he said. "Whatever the shortfall is, we will help."
About a month ago, Parks Canada officials informed the St. Boniface Historical Society its $56,000 annual contract to run programs at Riel House was not going to be renewed in 2013. The society has run the museum on behalf of Parks Canada since 1980.
Initially, it was feared the cuts meant Riel House was no longer going to be open to the public. However, Environment Minister Peter Kent stated emphatically in the House of Commons the museum was not closing.
"The house will remain open," he said on June 12.
The funding for the St. Boniface Historical Society is being cut and next year the museum will operate with self-guided tours rather than costumed interpreters. It's not clear what funding Parks Canada will provide to run Riel House or who, if anyone, will get the contract.
Chartrand said he isn't sure whether costumed interpreters are needed anymore. "Is it necessary to have interpreters sitting around waiting for someone to show up or do we rethink how we do this?" he said. "We need to put together a good business plan and we're asking the government to give us the chance to take it over."
St. Boniface MP Shelly Glover said she met June 15 with several interested groups, including the St. Boniface Historical Society, the MMF and the St. Vital Historical Society.
She said she is confident a plan will come together but doesn't know when the consultations, being led by Parks Canada, will conclude. …