Increasing awareness about Métis within schools
MNO Grand River Métis Council teaches educators and students
Submitted by: MNO Grand River Métis Council President Cora Bunn
The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council was recently invited to train educators from the Upper Grand District School Board and the Wellington Catholic District School Board about Métis heritage and culture.
Council Chair Jennifer Parkinson and Council President Cora Bunn taught 70 teachers and principals at the May Professional Development Day in Elora. A key resource used during this training was the MNO Métis Education Kit. Contents of the kit included the MNO Métis timeline, posters, a Métis sash, Marcel Labelle’s book “our Knowledge Canoe”, and the Métis Fiddler Quartet’s CD; all of which sparked a great deal of interest from the teachers.
The MNO Grand River Métis Council display provided a colourful background for Chair Parkinson and President Bunn to display furs, traps and beading which provided teachers with a hands-on experience that proved very popular.
A jigging workshop was also held. The Métis Fiddler Quartet’s CD was blasted through the hall as the teachers kicked off their shoes and learned the basic steps of jigging.
Some excellent contacts were made during the event and orders were taken for MNO Education Kits.
After the training, one of the participants Mr. Allan Asselin, the Principal of St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic School, invited the Council to spend National Aboriginal Day at his school teaching the students about Métis history and culture.
Principal Asselin invited the Council because he wanted the students at his school to recognize the contributions of the Métis and to “celebrate their efforts and their strengths and share in the great culture they bring each and every day to Canadians.”
In order to teach all the students in one day, three sessions we held simultaneously in the gymnasium.
President Cora Bunn taught the students Métis history, culture and how to jig. The students enjoyed the jigging, especially the “freestyle” jigging. One Kindergarten student did the worm!
Senator Carol Levis read stories to the younger students and offered the prayers. Chair Jennifer Parkinson and her husband Ron Parkinson led the almost 600 students in two different crafts. Students from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 4 each made a medicine pouch. Grades 5-8 were taught how to finger weave. The finger weaving was done in the school’s colours of gold and purple. Jennifer also shared smudging with the grade 7-8 students.
In honour of National Aboriginal Day the school flew the Métis flag for the day. The Council presented Principal Asselin with a Métis sash. The students and teachers gave enthusiastic praise of the interactive teachings we shared with them. The teachers and students expressed how they “loved” their day with the Council and have requested that the Council return for two days next year.
Local media was invited to St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic School by Principal Asselin, which resulted in a large front page article and photo in the Guelph Mercury.
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