Métis students explore their culture & future aspirations

The 2014 MNO Infinite Reach March Break Camp


Watch this video about the March Break Camp.

This March break, 22 Métis high school students from across Ontario gathered in Mattawa for the 2014 Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Infinite Reach March Break Camp. This was a large increase from previous camps as the event becomes more popular each year.

Held at the Canadian Ecology Centre, this four-day retreat provided an opportunity for students to discuss post-secondary options and learn about the MNO and its Infinite Reach Métis Solidarity Network while embracing their culture and heritage.

The MNO Infinite Reach Network is comprised Métis post-secondary students who have the common goal of working together enhance their post-secondary experience. The program is designed to ease the transition of Métis high school students to post-secondary by creating a community where Métis students can share experiences and support one another in their academic pursuits.

MarchBreak2014Group
The 2014 MNO Infinite Reach March Break Camp participants with MNO staff
and volunteers. (Left to right) Front row: Rachelle Normand, Ezra McCaveney,
Coleen Ryan, Taylor Cosman, Melody Chislette-Morris, Nikki Doucette and
Katherine Stewart-McNeil (MNO staff). Middle row: Tamarra Shepherd (MNO
staff), Sheila Grantham (MNO staff), Chantele Gouliquer, Melanie-Rose
Frappier, Sara Belle Ryan, Simon Blais, Shelayne Raymond and Katrina
Harrison.
Back row: Mike (CEC staff),Elijah Cadarette, Brian Tucker (MNO
staff), Alexandre Savoie, Joshua Bushey, Matthew Bombardier, Jean-Luc
Harrison, Will McLean, Victor Brunelle, Verna Porter-Brunelle and Aaron (CEC
staff).

“Infinite Reach March Break Camp is a chance for university and college students to connect with high school students and introduce them to not only what post-secondary is about but also what’s available as far as support and community at the institutions they are applying to,” explained Sahra MacLean, MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator for Carleton University.

Throughout their stay, the students participated in various cultural activities that allowed them to connect with nature. A favourite of Sudbury student Melanie-Rose Frappier was the snow shoe hike through the beautiful grounds. Students were also taught about different tree types while taking a winter hike along the very same waters their voyageur ancestors traveled through. At night, a wolf howl was held and enjoyed by all. The evenings consisted of delicious meals, free time and camp fire socials.

“It is a great learning experience because I don’t know too much about being Métis so I wanted to learn about that,” said Sudbury student Alexandre Savoie. “Also I knew it would be fun because of the cultural and outdoors activities.”

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Camp fire socials were held every night during the 2014 MNO Infinite Reach
March Break Camp.

Traditional Métis crafts were a big hit. Students participated in beading, medicine pouches and moccasin workshops and finger weaving lessons were provided by MNO Infinite Reach Facilitators for Sault College Nikki Doucette and Melody Chislett-Morris.  MNO Infinite Reach Facilitators Maclean, Tera Beaulieu and Elijah Cadarette also volunteered at the camp.

“What I liked most about this camp was getting to know people like me and getting in touch with my roots,” said Ottawa student Colleen Ryan. The cultural and heritage aspect of the camp was also a favourite of Toronto student Will McLean.

MNO Senator Verna Porter-Brunelle and MNO Veterans’ Council President Joe Paquette were also in attendance and shared Métis culture and heritage with the students. In particular, Paquette shared traditional knowledge techniques which included Toronto student Simone Blais’s favourite activity, a fire starting workshop.

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Sudbury school student Alexandre Savoie during one of the bedding workshops

“These kids didn’t know each other yesterday and now they are together and sharing, that’s Métis family,” said Senator Porter-Brunelle. “It makes me proud and happy to see them all come together and share something…I think it’s just excellent.”

Along with cultural activities, students were provided an overview on the future job market, information on various post-secondary opportunities, potential funding, programs, disciplines and took part in a resume writing workshop.

An overview of the MNO, its education and training programs and a screening of the MNO documentary The Métis Nation of Ontario: 1993-2013 was provided to the students. Additionally, Renée Michaud, the 2012/13 MNO Generation Innovation Challenge runner up talked to the students about how to take advantage of resources available to them.

Many students showed up to camp as strangers but left as great friends.  Taylor Cosman from Barrie, Chantele Gouliquer from Atikokan and Ezra McCaveney from Pickering expressed how meeting fellow Métis youth was their favourite part of the experience.

The camp proved to be a great opportunity for students to build networks not just with each other but with the Infinite Reach Facilitators, MNO staff and community members.

For more information on the Infinite Reach program and how to get involved click here.

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