Council educates community on Métis culture

MNO Credit River Métis Council provides Métis culture competency training to Central West LHIN

Submitted by: Richard Cuddy, MNO Credit River Métis Council President

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MNO staff and MNO Credit River Métis Council members with LHIN
representative at culture training. (Left to right) Council member Jim Tolles,
LHIN representative Patrick Boily, Council member Joyce Tolles, Council
President Richard Cuddy and MNO staff member Simon Bain.

Late in January 2014, Patrick Boily, French Language Health Services Coordinator and Aboriginal Health Consultant for the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), contacted the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Credit River Métis Council to see if they could “provide cultural competency training to LHIN staff and board.” The LHINs across the province are committed to engaging the Aboriginal communities to increase the Board and staff members’ cultural competency through information and training. Boily and MNO Credit River Métis Council President Richard Cuddy exchanged several communications and the discussions resulted in the MNO Credit River Métis Council forming a LHIN Competency Committee.

The committee consisted of Senator Ray Bergie, Councillor Joyce Tolles, Credit River Council’s Traditional and Knowledge Resource Jim Tolles, MNO Community and Wellness Coordinator Simon Bain and Council President Cuddy.

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Traditional Métis cultural display by Jim Tolles.

The Council recognized this as an opportunity to deliver competency training regarding the Métis people from the Métis perspective. Being so, the committee contacted MNO Chief Operating Officer Doug Wilson with the proposal and requested the assistance of the MNO Secretariat.

Wilson, Wenda Watteyne, MNO Healing and Wellness Director, Storm Russell, MNO Senior Policy and Research Analyst, Brian Tucker, MNO Associate Director, Education & Way of Life and Whitney Montgomery, MNO Chronic Disease Surveillance (CDSP) Project Coordinator were brought on board to assist the committee. Both the committee and the secretariat expressed concerns that the presentation deliver information consistent with the MNO’s approach to Métis culture, traditions and healing and wellness. Russell created the presentation regarding MNO Healing and Wellness while Tucker incorporated the Métis Way of Life Framework (WOLF) information to balance the material. Both the committee and secretariat agreed the presentation should begin with a brief Métis 101 presentation.

The committee also welcomed Tolles to add his Métis Traditional and Cultural display which consists of furs and trapping materials; fire starting techniques; clothing; gear and a new “Match the Animal to the Track” challenge to the presentation. The addition of the display enhanced the presentation by giving participants the ability to try, touch and see these traditional, cultural display items up close.

The training was originally set for April but this date changed because as promotion circulated,  more and more participants became interested. LHIN then changed the date to May 28, 2014 and the training was moved from the Central West LHIN office to the Marriot Courtyard in Brampton to accommodate the larger number of participants.

By the early evening of May 28, participation had grown to an audience of 39 LHIN Board and staff members including the Honourable John McDermid, Board Vice Chair, who provided the introductions for the Competency Training. Councillor Joyce Tolles provided the opening prayer and President Cuddy supplied the opening remarks.

“On behalf of the MNO and the Council, I am pleased and encouraged that we were invited to train here with you today,” stated President Cuddy. “We are extremely eager to share information about the MNO and the MNO Healing and Wellness Branch and to deliver information about the Métis from the Métis, telling our own story. The Métis are one of Canada’s three Aboriginal Peoples with our own distinct identity, culture, language and traditions with so very much to offer. Please, enjoy the presentation and displays. On nay icit-we are here.”

Bain delivered the Métis 101 and MNO Healing and Wellness Branch presentation which also incorporated Métis way of life and Métis culture and traditions. President Cuddy took the floor once more to expand on the Métis 101; specifically, who are the Métis and some brief history before answering many excellent questions.

Participants were then invited to explore Tolles’ Métis Traditional and Cultural display. Both Jim and Councillor Joyce Tolles were kept very busy for the remainder of the evening demonstrating some of the items; answering questions and socializing.

After closing remarks from Boily, President Cuddy and the Honourable John McDermid, a closing prayer was given by Councillor Joyce Tolles.

President Cuddy would like to thank and acknowledge the committee and MNO secretariat for their assistance, commitment and dedication to the promotion of the MNO, Council and citizens. He hopes that this can be the ground work for other Councils to make connections with the LHIN organizations in their areas.

On May 29, 2014, the Council received the following message from Boily on behalf of LHIN:

Hi Richard, Joyce, Jim and Simon, I just wanted to again express my gratitude for the great work you all did yesterday. I've had nothing but great feedback. I hope this is the start of a productive relationship that will be mutually beneficial for both the Métis Community and ourselves. Thank you.

President Cuddy would also like to thank Boily and the Central West LHIN for the invitation and opportunity to deliver the Métis Cultural Competency Training. The Council will always appreciate the prospect of creating an accurate understanding of the MNO and Métis citizens; the story of the Métis told by Métis.

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