MNO Toronto and York Region Council hosts MNO Canoe Expedition

Submitted by: Tera Beaulieu, President, Toronto and York Region Métis Council

Toronto
The MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council with the MNO Canoe
Expedition crew on June 11, 2014.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council hosted a reception for the MNO Canoe Expedition on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

The MNO Canoe Expedition is made up of a group of eight paddlers and one road crew member who are making their way across Ontario by canoe, travelling 2,000 kilometers along the historic waterways that their Métis ancestors also traversed.

While passing through Lake Ontario, a reception was held at the MNO Toronto office and was attended by Council members, MNO citizens, community members from Toronto and York Region, and staff from the various MNO programs and services. The Council was excited to have the opportunity to host this group of young Métis as they shine light on Métis culture through their journey.

“The re-creation of this historic voyage of our ancestors is a powerful way to bring to life an exciting part of Canadian history, our history,” said Brenda Stewart, Women’s Representative.

The evening began with opening remarks from Council President, Tera Beaulieu, who welcomed the youth to the City of Toronto. Beaulieu shared with the youth the collective pride that the Council has for the courageous journey that they have embarked on, noting how honoured the Council was to be able to host a reception for them that evening.

“What an incredible journey you have all embarked on,” said Beaulieau. “As you travel along the waterways that our Métis ancestors voyaged, know that they are there with you in spirit, taking pride in each pass of your journey.”

An opening prayer was offered by Secretary/Treasurer Marilyn Hew, and welcoming remarks were also offered by Chair Katherine Stewart-McNeil and Youth Representative Christine Skura.

“I am proud to see such strong, passionate and driven youth embarking on such an adventure. It is a great representation of Métis culture and heritage,” said Skura.

Skura also presented the Toronto MNO Infinite Reach: Student Solidarity Network blanket for display. This blanket was gifted to the incoming MNO Infinite Reach Facilitators who attend schools in the Greater Toronto Area for use in their community and school work in the coming years. In displaying the blanket for the  MNO expedition youth, President Beaulieu shared the hope that as the youth continue on in their travels, this blanket could act as a reminder of the individuals, communities and nation that are nurturing and supporting them along their way.

Upon completion of the opening remarks, everyone enjoyed a feast of lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and lots of dessert! The remainder of the evening was spent socializing and listening as the youth shared reflections of the expedition to date. Stories of challenges and successes were inspiring to hear, as it was clear that the youth have already grown and matured as a result of this remarkable journey. In closing, Senator Robert Bird offered a prayer of thanks for the gathering and for the youth who are courageously journeying in honour of their Métis ancestors, communities and nation.

Stewart-McNeil was highly impressed with the opportunity the MNO has been able to provide for these young Métis.

“It is clear that as they retrace our ancestors' paddle strokes through the Great Lakes, they are learning a great deal about living so closely with these lands and waters,” she stated. “As youth who carry this knowledge, they will bring to our future generations not just an understanding of our history, but a contemporary experience of this piece of the Métis way of life.”

The young voyageurs made a great impact on all in attendance, “What a delight to meet such wonderful, enterprising young adventurers!” said Senator Bird, “The future looks brighter as I see the enthusiasm and excitement within this fabulous group!”

Hew concurred with Senator Bird’s remarks, “I was so impressed by how well-spoken and knowledgeable our youth are; they are clearly outstanding representatives of the Métis Nation of Ontario,” she said.

MNO Canoe Expedition member Geneviève Routhier expressed her thanks on behalf of the entire crew, “A big thank you to the Council for hosting us with such a wonderful dinner and meet and greet,” she said. “It means so much to us to have people along the way wishing us safe journeys and wanting to hear our modern day voyageur stories.”

The MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council would like to express its most sincere thanks to the entire MNO Canoe Expedition crew and offers warm wishes for a safe and memorable journey.

“What a fantastic effort by our newest generation of intrepid Métis voyageurs,” expressed Jonstone. “So proud that the Council hosted the group as they passed through Toronto, and wish them all the best in this journey of a lifetime!”

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