MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council co-sponsor launch of Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations Vol. 2.
Submitted by: Tera Beaulieu, Women’s Representative, MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council
On the evening of February 12, 2014, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council, Muskrat Magazine and the Sound of My Heart Collective co-sponsored the Toronto book launch of Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations Vol. 2.
The second volume of Honouring Indigenous Women, published by the Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa, focuses on themes related to women’s lived experiences and relationships and is comprised of written and artistic pieces from 62 women and men from various nations.
The book launch was held at The Toronto Birth Centre, the new home for Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto, a collective of midwives who provide maternity care to women throughout Toronto. The decision to hold the book launch in this community space reflected the key theme and purpose of gathering that evening: to honour the strength and powerful gifts that indigenous women provide in leading, educating, healing, and nurturing our culture, communities and Nations.
The evening began with a traditional opening prayer provided by Elder Joanne Dallaire and an honour song was shared by Spirit Wind Women’s Hand Drum Group to honour all of the contributing authors in attendance that evening. Opening remarks were shared by Rebeka Tabobondung, Editor of Muskrat Magazine, Tera Beaulieu, Women’s Representative for the MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council, and Pei-Ju Wang, Organizer with Sound of My Heart Collective. MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council President Robert Bird also provided welcoming remarks. Audrey Huntley, Co-founder of No More Silence, an inter/national network to support the work of activists, academics, researchers, agencies and communities to stop the murders and disappearances of indigenous women, also spoke about a newly formed community run database that documents the deaths of indigenous women/Two-Spirit and Trans peoples.
The bulk of the evening featured readings from contributing authors Zainab Amadahy, Tera Beaulieu, Angela Mashford-Pringle, Catherine McCarty, PJ Prudat and Faith Turner, followed by a panel discussion where authors responded to questions from the audience.
While listening to the inspiring and moving words from the authors, everyone was welcomed to feast on venison stew and bannock provided by the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto. Following the readings and discussion, guests were invited to join in a drumming circle led by Amy Desjarlais and Jenny Blackbird of Spirit Wind Women’s Hand Drum Group.
As songs were being drummed and sung by the circle, it was announced that the first Aboriginal baby had just been delivered by two of the Aboriginal midwives at the birthing centre! As cheers of joy erupted throughout the room, a traditional welcoming song was sung to welcome the newest member of the Aboriginal community into the world. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful and miraculous event taking place that evening, where everyone had gathered to honour the gifts and beauty of our women and all their relations.
As one of the contributing authors and co-organizers for the book launch, Beaulieu was honoured to have had the opportunity to share her writing and story with Métis community members, and also the wider Indigenous community of Toronto. As the Women’s Representative for the MNO Toronto and York Métis Council, Beaulieu found it a privilege to represent the Council that evening, and she is grateful for all of the support Council members and the community offered in the organization and implementation of the book launch.
The genuine caring, respect, and warmth that was tangible in the room that evening was not only healing, but energizing and inspiring to continue on in our work to serve and honour our Métis women.
Copies of Honouring Indigenous Women – Hearts of Nations Vol. 2 are available at: http://thesoundofmyheart.weebly.com/vol-2.html
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