Métis Roots Cultural Showcase in Toronto

Submitted by Virginia Barter, MNO Toronto York Region Métis Council Councillor

rootsAlicia Blore (left) and Joanna Burton (right) were part of the cultural
performances at the Métis Roots Cultural Showcase in Toronto.

On September 26, 2015, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) celebrated Culture Days with its Métis Roots Cultural Showcase.

About Culture Days

Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections across Canada.  With the support of volunteer groups at the national, provincial and local levels, hundreds of thousands of artists, cultural workers, organizations and groups, volunteers and supporters host free participatory public activities that take place in hundreds of cities and towns throughout the country over the last weekend of September each year. All activities are promoted on the Culture Days national website.

Métis Roots Cultural Showcase

The Toronto Public Library supports Culture Days each year by providing free venue space to any group who wants to present an activity.  The MNO TYRMC took this opportunity to organize a showcase of culture that would introduce the general public to who Métis people are today. A lovely community space for the Métis Roots Cultural Showcase was provided at the Toronto Malvern Branch Library (in north-east Scarborough).  The library promoted the event locally. It was a wonderful way to reach out to the community.

There were approximately 50 participants - adults and children.  Dancing and finger weaving workshops were facilitated by Métis youth Alicia Blore (fiddler) and Joanna Burt (spoons).  The Rabbit Dance was most fun for all.  MNO citizen Brad Lafortune from Ottawa was a surprise guest who added some extra “joy de vivre” to the festivities by demonstrating some really fancy Red River Jig steps.  After the dance workshop, participants had the option of learning the basics of finger weaving with the girls, or beading with MNO TYRMC Senator Constance Simmonds.

MNO TYRMC President Tera Beaulieu was Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon. Senator Simmonds led the opening and closing prayers.  The ladies of the "All Our Relations" drum group from Oshawa joined in with performances and stories highlighting the First Nations traditions. A panel display of Métis culture and history provided an educational focus, along with samples of books, furs and other cultural items. The Gabriel Dumont Institute posters added a colourful splash to it all.  This generated much interest and discussion.

MNO TYRMC Secretary/Treasurer, Marilyn Hew had a table set with free materials and information on the MNO and the MNO TYRMC, as well as some sashes and spoons for sale.  MNO TYRMC Councillor Todd Ross took on the role as official photographer, so there were many memorable shots of the day.

Through this Culture Days event the MNO TYRMC was able to share Métis culture with a wide range of people from various ethnic backgrounds in the local community. It also reached out to the Aboriginal Housing Support Services (AHSS) located next door to the library.  The AHSS coordinators there were very excited to learn about the activities of the MNO TYRMC and they helped promote the event.  Some of their residents attended. The MNO TYRMC hopes to collaborate on more activities in the future with them.

The MNO TYRMC would like to express special thanks to Chantel Prashad and the staff of the Toronto Library Malvern Branch for their keen support of this event.  The special display of Métis books and resources set up at the entrance of the library in the weeks leading up to Culture Days were especially appreciated as was the colourful poster advertising the event.  The library staff did an excellent job of setting the room and all in all it was a very successful afternoon and everyone enjoyed themselves.  Everyone hopes to do it again next year.

If you want to know more about how to participate in Culture Days, visit their website at http://culturedays.ca

Published November 6, 2015

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