Métis Heritage Celebration a success in rain or shine

heritage entrySpectators waiting for the Opening Ceremonies to being at
the Ninth Annual Métis Heritage Celebration.
Submitted by Senator Cecile Wagar of the MNO Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council and Co-Chair of the Ninth Annual Métis Heritage Celebration

For months, excitement ran high among the members of the committee for the Ninth Annual Métis Heritage Celebration.  For many of the committee members, it was their second time organizing the event so they knew what to expect and could save themselves some last minute scrambling.

Once again, the celebration was situated in the center of Oshawa’s business district in beautiful Memorial Park with its amazing band-shell and majestic trees and hosted by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council (ODRMC).heritage rain danceDancing despite the rain during the Ninth Annual Métis
Heritage Celebration.

Everyone was so pleased with the list of Métis entertainers. The day began in a good way with the MNO ODRMC’s All Our Relations Métis Drum Circle, followed by new and amazing local young Métis fiddler Amy Pinkis, returning youth fiddler Rajan Anderson and a lively Red River Jig lesson from MNO Summer Youth Cultural Program (SYCP) facilitators Alicia Blore and Simone Blais.

The Métis Grand Entry was an impressive sight as attending MNO citizens followed the MNO Veterans’ Council Colour Party to the front of the stage.  The keynote speaker during Opening Ceremonies was Senator Dr. Alis Kennedy who spoke of the MNO Veterans’ Council fundraiser to send MNO veterans and Métis youth to the 2017 Pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge, France.heritage sponsorSenator Cecile Wagar (left) and Carolyn Adams (right),
winner of the silent auction's Grand Prize, donated by Via
Rail.

Ariko, the musical group hailing from beautiful Penetanguishene, returned to the celebration this year, fiddling and singing with such lovely harmonies.  Heather Bunn of the 2014 MNO Canoe Expedition delighted the crowd with stories of her amazing experience on Ontario’s waterways last summer. Heather was followed by Owen Sound Métis fiddler Rudy Couture.

Then it started to rain and it didn’t stop until Sunday afternoon but not even that hindered the festivities.

A variety of interactive activities for all ages were well planned and set up: spoons and jigging workshops taught by the MNO SYCP performers Alicia Blore and Simone Blais, fiddle workshops under the trees facilitated by the fiddlers of Ariko, the youth tent crafts, the "passport" incentive, and the return of the Voyageur Games.

Teepees and canopies were set up for returning presenters Archie Martin and Andre Bosse. Storyteller and local Women’s Representative Claire Kearns and medicinal plant expert and enactor MNO ODRMC Councillor Ted McNally also shared their knowledge.

Many of the exhibitors returned from last year, including MNO staff with the MNO Healthy Babies Healthy Children and the MNO Education and Training Branch, and representatives from the MNO Veterans’ Council, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Trent University, Durham College, Canadian Forces Recruitment, Oshawa Community Health Centre Aboriginal Initiatives, Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiatives, a new addition of the TO2015 Pan Am Games Oshawa Cruiser, numerous Aboriginal vendors and two food vendors.

The MNO ODRMC’s 25-foot birch bark canoe, Grandmother Canoe (Kokomis Tchiman) and a silent auction were featured in the Welcome Tent with an enthusiastic group of volunteers who were poised for action as it occurred.

The Grand Prize in the silent auction was won by Carolyn Adams. The prize, a Via Rail trip to Ottawa, was donated by Vial Rail.

All was set for an exciting weekend of Métis experiences, renewing friendships and making new ones for MNO citizens and the public at large but the threat of a major storm and its arrival five hours into the event drove the crowds away. There was nothing left to do on Sunday but help tear down damaged canopies, pack up the teepees, Red River cart, voyageur canoe, sound system…and dance!

With Alicia playing her fiddle and Simone leading everyone through the steps of many Métis group dances, quite a time was had.  The few people who ventured through the park looking at the celebration joined in on the fun.

So ended the Ninth Annual Métis Heritage Celebration with spirits lifted by joyous Métis fiddling, dancing, laughing and cheering.  Despite the rain, all that mattered was that the best committee ever came together for a Métis cultural event and worked so well together. Everyone helped each other reach the goal from start to finish.  And now the MNO ODRMC is pumped to do it all over again for the 10th Annual Métis Heritage Celebration on June 25-26, 2016.

UN GRAN MARSI goes to the following sponsors: Celebrate Canada, the City of Oshawa, Ontario Power Generation, Via Rail (donor of the silent auction Grand Prize), La Quinta Inn & Suites and all the exhibitors, vendors, volunteers, entertainers, presenters and especially to Co-Chair Amy Nault and the amazing committee who, year after year, have made it possible to offer a taste of the Métis culture to MNO citizens and the general public of southern Ontario.

 

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