On behalf of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. and our Northern First Nations, I send greetings for a happy holiday season. I also wish you a happy winter solstice.

As we enter the season of giving, I’ll be joining MKO staff members at various locations in Thompson to spread some Christmas cheer. We are dropping off food, clothing, and gift donations to people who are experiencing hardships or homelessness. I want to thank all the MKO staff members who dedicate themselves to helping others who are in need.

I also take a moment to recognize all those who are working on the frontlines in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. I know you have worked tirelessly and need a break. It is my hope this winter season will provide some time for rest and rejuvenation for those who need it. MKO leaders have also worked around the clock to protect their communities—let us remember to support and pray for the well-being of our leaders at this time.

As we continue to live through the COVID-19 pandemic, I thank all those who have received their vaccines to protect themselves and others. For anyone who hasn’t received their COVID-19 vaccines, please consider getting one. Talk to a health care provider if you have questions about it.

As we learn of the new Omnicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, I encourage you to keep your circle small during this holiday. Do everything you can to protect your loved ones. Listen to the advice of your leadership during this difficult time.

Reach out to those you love by phone, video calls, or by dropping something off to their doorstep to let them know you are thinking about them. Check in with the children and youth in your lives as well as the Elders.

Continue to stay strong. We are a resilient and strong people.

I wish peace and happiness. May the holiday season and the new year bring hope and joy to you and your loved ones.

Ekosani, masi cho, and thank you,

Grand Chief Garrison Settee