Métis Medicine Walk: An Exceptional Experience

By Richard Cuddy, President of the MNO Credit River Métis Council

Métis Medicine WalkThe organizers and leaders of the Métis Medicine Walk: (left to right) Joe Paquette,
Jim Tolles, Senator Ray Bergie, Karen Derocher, MNO Credit River Métis Council
President Richard Cuddy, Ariane Tilstra, Simon Bain, Tabitha Toles and Bill Morrison

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Credit River Métis Council in partnership with the Mississauga Halton Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and Conservation Halton were hosts to “A Métis Medicine Walk” at the gorgeous Crawford Lake Conservation Area on Sunday, September 9, 2012.  Thanks to these partnerships the event was free of charge to over 50 registered guests, 15 of which were young people.  The Métis Medicine Walk was fashioned to inspire our youth and promote Métis traditional knowledge throughout our community.

People gathered in the upper parking lot by the Iroquoian village where the MNO Credit River Métis Council had set up the Consultation Trailer.  Jim Tolles, MNO Credit River Council traditional resource person and Talitha Tolles, MNO Credit River Youth Rep., set up a trapping, furs and fire starting display.  Mississauga Halton LHIN Representatives Ariane Tilstra, Lead Health Systems Development and French Language Services and Liane Fernandes, Director, Health System Development and Community Engagement, offered a display where everyone was invited to stop by and learn about the health initiatives in their community.  The Mississauga Halton LHIN is actively working to get to know the needs of the Métis community and welcomed their comments regarding healthcare for Métis citizens.

Bill Morrison, MNO Credit River Vice-president and Chair, managed the Consultation Trailer display.  Both Bill and Jim reported that even after the walkers had departed on the Medicine Walk, a constant procession of visitors enjoyed Conservation Halton’s Crawford Lake displays.  These extra participants helped to further promote Métis heritage and culture.

MNO Credit River Senator, Ray Bergie, opened the Medicine Walk with a prayer, thanking the Creator for the safe, happy gathering and beautiful venue.  Richard Cuddy, Credit River President, introduced the MNO Credit River Métis Council and acknowledged the importance of friends like the Mississauga Halton LHIN and Conservation Halton.  He welcomed Sharon McBride, Métis Nation of Ontario Vice-chair, and Métis brothers and sisters from across the nation as well as representatives from Environment Canada, the Dufferin Peel District Catholic School Board, the Peel Children’s Aid Society and the Ministry of Transportation. His main message to the gathering was: “The Credit River Métis Council is not an Aboriginal group, club, committee or network. The Métis Nation of Ontario is the only provincially recognized governance in Ontario for Métis citizens. The Credit River Métis Council is the official local government representation for Métis citizens authorized by and responsible to the Métis Nation of Ontario and its citizens. The council is working hard to promote Métis traditions, culture and heritage in our community and to inspire generations to come.”

Before President Cuddy finished, he had the pleasure of introducing the true star of the event, the Métis Medicine Walk facilitator, Mr. Joe Paquette, President of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s Veterans’ Council, Métis Elder and Credit River citizen.  Joe captivated the crowd, beginning his stories at his display table. He has a unique ability to share traditional knowledge and heritage with respect, charm and humour. The group was fascinated by his stories and impressed with his technical knowledge.  Passing around samples of what Mother Earth provides to us, he held everyone’s interest. As he shared his extensive traditional knowledge he encouraged the participants, especially the youth, to touch and smell the samples being passed around. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend one of Joe’s presentations, you don’t know what you are missing.

After his short introduction, Joe guided the gathering on a two hour Métis Medicine Walk around Crawford Lake, starting at the Iroquoian village. Joe used the boardwalk that surrounds Crawford Lake to carry out the tour in a way that was safe for the visitors and protected the fragile ecology of the conservation area. He is always concerned about the state of what will be left behind for generations of Métis to come. Throughout the walk Joe answered questions; he expanded his sharing by pointing out the plants in their natural environment, and provided detailed traditional information. The throng quickly understood why Crawford Lake is one of Joe’s much-loved locations.

When the walk was complete, guests were invited back to the display area where Joyce Tolles, Credit River Secretary and Treasurer, provided healthy beverages and Simon Bain, the Métis Nation of Ontario Region 8 Healing and Wellness Coordinator, offered an assortment of wholesome snacks.

MNO Credit River Women’s Rep., Karen Derocher and Senator Ray Bergie reported countless compliments and rave reviews regarding Joe, the Medicine Walk, Crawford Lake and the council displays.

The MNO Credit River Métis Council would like to thank the following organizations and people for collaborating on an inspirational and stimulating event:  Joe Paquette; the Mississauga Halton LHIN and their Reps., Ariane Tilstra and Liane Fernandes; Conservation Halton and the staff at Crawford Lake; Simon Bain, MNO staff memeber; and, last but not least, all of our friends and participants.


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