A busy summer for the MNO Niagara Region Métis Council

Submitted by: Amanda Pont-Shanks, MNO Niagara Region Métis Council Chair with excerpts from an article posted online by Walker Industries: http://www.walkerind.com/recognizing-the-metis-in-niagara/

Fish fryMNO staff Tammy Wintle (left) and Glen Lipinski (middle)
with Garry Laframboise, MNO NRMC Senator, at the
Fourth Annual Community Fish Fry. Click here to view a
larger version of the picture.

Every summer seems to be a little busier for the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Niagara Region Métis Council (NRMC). This summer was no different and what a success it was!

Fourth Annual Community Fish Fry

The MNO NRMC Fourth Annual Community Fish Fry kicked off the Council’s summer events. The event was held on June 16, 2016 at Club Richelieu in Welland. The MNO Healing and Wellness branch staff and the MNO NRMC once again worked as a great team. This event sold out quickly and welcomed many new faces from across the province.

The Fish Fry began with opening remarks from MNO NRMC President Derrick Pont. MNO staff member Glen Lipinski then took over the microphone to serve as emcee for the rest of Dreamcatcher workshopMNO NRMC Youth Representative Niki Ann Brideau
(top-left) and workshop participants show off their
dreamcatchers. Click here to view a larger version of the
picture.
the evening. Local fish was prepared by MNO NRMC Senator Garry Laframboise, Councillor Pierre Carre alongside many other volunteers. MNO staff and citizens were an unstoppable team that were able to quickly serve food to the many hungry attendees.

The night was filled with traditional Métis music by the Old Time Fiddlers. Guests danced, ate, laughed, met old friends and formed new friendships. The night was a great success and the Council looks forward to hosting it again next year!

Dream Catcher Workshop

Also in June, MNO NRMC Chair Amanda Pont-Shanks and Youth Representative Niki Ann Brideau hosted a Dream Catcher Workshop. This was a family event where parents and children came together to learn how to make dream catchers. Rose parade(L-R) MNO Niagara Region Métis Council citizens and
Métis youth sit on their float for the Welland Rose Parade:
Giselle Legiehn, Women’s Representative; Garry
Laframboise, Senator; Amanda Pont-Shanks, Chair;
Holden Shanks, Preston Legiehn , Ema Brown; Leah
Brown, Secretary; Brian Kon, Councillor; and Calab
Legiehn. Click here to view a larger version of the picture.
The workshop had over 20 participants ranging from seven years of age to ‘life experienced’ participants (as they like to be described).

While the dream catchers are a concept borrowed from our First Nations cousins, this began the conversation around Métis traditions and culture sharing. At the workshop, generations of Métis people shared their own personal experiences with one another. Elders shared with the youth stories from their childhood and fond memories of traditional Métis cooking and family events.

There were many laughs and a great time was had by all. Everyone agreed that one of the best dream catchers was made by 11-year old Theron Young.

Welland Rose Parade Metis encampment at Fort GeorgeKelly Brishke, MNO NRMC Councillor, and her mother,
Margaret Burr paint dot art at the traditional Métis
encampment at Fort George in Niagara on the Lake. Click
here to view a larger version of the picture.

On June 26, the MNO NRMC participated in the Welland Rose Parade. The float was beautifully designed by NRMC Women’s Representative Giselle Legiehn. New additions to the float this year were wooden canoes that were kindly made by students from Jean Vanier High School in Welland. Plants and trees for the float were kindly loaned to the Council from Paul’s Garden Centre in Welland.

A truck, trailer, and driver were kindly donated to the MNO NRMC from local community partner, Walker Industries. The sponsorship assists the Council with their mission to unite Métis people and promote the historical values, culture, language and traditions of the Métis Nation.

“The Niagara Region Métis Council is very thankful to have a community partner like Walker Environmental. Over the last several years Walker Environmental has helped our Council bring awareness of the Métis way of life and history to the citizens of the Niagara Region” says Derrick Pont, MNO NRMC President.

Many Council members volunteered their time to set up the Summer HEAT programStudents from Edith Cavell School show off their Métis
Sash inspired friendship bracelets. Click here to view a
larger version of the picture.
float and participate in the parade along with a few of their children who they brought along so that they could learn about Métis traditions and customs. The kids worked well as a team and were very proud to show their Métis heritage to the community.

As the Council paraded down the street, many cheers could be heard from the crowd. For the seventh year in a row, the MNO NRMC float took home the prestigious Best Cultural Float Award. Senator Laframboise naturally took home the most cheers.  

Traditional Métis encampment at Fort George

From July 16-17, the MNO NRMC Council continued their busy summer with their annual traditional Métis encampment at Fort George in Niagara on the Lake. The Council along with the help of many MNO citizens, set up a traditional fur trade post just outside the fort’s entrance and live as their Métis ancestors would have in the early 1800’s. They also dress in traditional Métis clothing, eat traditional foods, and participate in many traditional activities.

Some of the activities demonstrated during the day were traditional dot art taught by Chair Pont-Shanks, wood carving by MNO staff Glen Lipinski and campsite building by President Pont. MNO NRMC Councillor Kelly Brishke also took part by greeting visitors and shared traditional Métis teachings.

The fort was quite busy on the weekend with lots of interested visitors stopping by our encampment who travelled from all over the world including South Korea, Israel, Poland, the United States of America, England and France. Visitors were very engaged and enjoyed learning about Métis people and our place in Canada.

The 31st Annual Siege of Old Fort Erie

From August 6-7, the MNO NRMC participated in the 31st Annual Siege of Old Fort Erie—the largest annual re-enactment of Canada’s efforts within the War of 1812. This is an annual re-enactment hosted by Parks Canada at historic Fort Erie. This event is always very popular and draws in crowds from across Canada and the United States.

Summer HEAT Program

This summer, the MNO NRMC once again teamed up with the District School Board of Niagara for their Summer HEAT (Helping Everyone Achieve Together) Program. Summer HEAT is committed to enhancing student achievement by providing highly engaging research-based camp activities that build literacy and numeracy skills (District School Board of Niagara). The camps focus this year was on the Indigenous peoples of Canada and included presentations from First Nations, Métis and Inuit community members.

Chair Pont-Shanks visited four different camps across the region and taught over 300 students about Métis history and culture, spending particular time on the Métis sash. The interactive presentation allowed students the opportunity to put on the sash and learn about the many different ways the sash was used such as a first aid kit, calendar, protection from the elements, and a proud symbol of Métis culture. Students also learned about the symbolism behind the different colours weaved into the sash.

Students later created friendship bracelets to represent their own sash. Instead of making bracelets, students in kindergarten to Grade 4 instead learned simple knots—a beginner step in sash making to create their own unique bracelet. The presentations were a great success and many students were excited to share with their friends and family the new skill they had learned as well as information about Métis history and culture.

Chair Pont-Shanks also visited the camp her son Holden Shanks was attending in Beamsville. As a parent volunteer, she taught 100 students and their parents about Métis history and culture and led a workshop in traditional Métis dot art on locally sourced rocks. The students loved making their own beautiful keepsake.

Holden was very proud and excited to share with his friends a little bit of his culture. He helped classmates paint and shared with his group what it meant to him to be Métis. “It’s a lot of fun!” Holden said. “You get to do a lot of fun stuff and I like spending time with my Grandpa and Mom!”

The MNO NRMC had a busy but fulfilling summer and are not showing any signs of slowing down! They have many future events already planned! The Council enjoys working with their community and have built many great relationships with community partners. Please visit their website (www.niagararegionmetiscouncil.org) and their Facebook page (Facebook.com/niagarametis) for upcoming events. They love seeing new faces at their events and are always looking for volunteers to help out!    

Published on: September 20, 2016 

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