MNO and Métis Way of Life showcased at recent Indigenous Health Conference

Indigenous Health Conference 2016_Isadore Day_Margaret Froh
MNO President Margaret Froh (right) and Ontario Regional
Chief Isadore Day were keynote speakers at the
Indigenous Health Conference (IHC) 2016: Towards Health
and Reconciliation. Click here to view a larger version.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) had a strong and vibrant presence at the recent Indigenous Health Conference (IHC) 2016: Towards Health and Reconciliation held on May 26 to 27, 2016 at the Hilton Meadowvale in Mississauga. The main conference theme of reconciliation was complemented by a focus on identifying solutions for improving health for Indigenous peoples through addressing the environmental, social and other determinants of health.

The conference, hosted by the University of Toronto, attracted a large and diverse audience of over 750 delegates from across Canada and beyond, including Métis, First Nations and Inuit leaders and representatives, healthcare providers, researchers, policy makers, and senior government officials.

Key note speakers and panelists included: Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Dr. Evan Adams, Dr. Thomas Wong, Dr. Malcolm King, MNO President Margaret Froh, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chief Wilton Littlechild, Dr. Ian Mosby, and Dr. Barry Lavallee, among others.

In opening the conference, the organizer Dr. Anna Banerji stressed the critical role health care providers have to play in reconciliation and in advocating for the improved health status of the individual, family, and the community in Indigenous populations.

Following Dr. Banerji’s welcome and opening remarks, President Froh delivered an invited, keynote address on the topic of reconciliation and highlighted the historical presence of Métis people across Canada. She flagged recent events that have the potential to contribute positively to the process of reconciliation with the Métis Nation—most notably, the April 14, 2016 Supreme Court decision in the Daniels case as well as current federal commitments to addressing outstanding Indigenous rights issues in Canada.

President Froh also spoke about the significant health needs of the Métis people of Ontario, highlighting the substantial research being carried out by MNO and partners to bring to light key Métis health, social and wellness priorities.

On the following day, MNO staff and research partners—which included, Dr. Storm J. Russell, MNO Senior Policy and Research Analyst; Cody Carmody, MNO Policy Analyst and Project Coordinator; Dr. Jennifer Walker, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences; Dr. Martin Cooke, University of Waterloo; and Dr. Loraine Marrett, Cancer Care Ontario—gave a one hour workshop that discussed MNO’s collaborative research and broader efforts to improve Métis health and well-being. MNO Senator Joseph Poitras also participated in this discussion. The workshop outlined the MNO’s evidence and culture-based approach to research, program development and service delivery, and highlighted the important role the MNO frontline workers play in improving Métis health and well-being in Ontario.

MNO youth representatives were also present in force at the conference and served as Métis cultural ambassadors throughout the event. They hosted two tables in the main exhibition area that displayed a wide array of Métis art work, cultural artefacts and other items that showcase the rich history and way of life of the Métis people of Ontario. Representatives from both MNO Education and Training and MNO Healing and Wellness branches staffed a third table that provided more specific information about the substantial work being carried out by all MNO branches and within the MNO public service more generally.  

Both MNO staff and the Métis youth cultural ambassadors reported a constant flow of visitors at the tables, with keen interest being shown in the broader work of the MNO as well as the Métis traditional games, art and bead works, harvesting activities, and the animal furs that were on display.

Métis culture and way of life was again featured prominently at the conference reception held on the evening of May 26. The reception was opened with a traditional prayer by MNO Senator Joseph Poitras and was emceed by MNO Director of Intergovernmental Relations Joanne Meyer. Following the blessing, MNO citizens and musicians Alicia and Liam Blore and Métis dancers Simone Blais and Joanna Burt entertained conference delegates with traditional music and jigging to a song from the Louis Riel Opera. The entertainment was very well received, with a number of delegates taking to the floor to join in the dancing.

The MNO is proud to have been a part of this important event and of its broader efforts to bring much needed attention to the Métis history, way of life, and the substantial work being done by the MNO to improve the health and well-being of the  Métis people of Ontario.

For more information about the conference, please visit: http://www.cpd.utoronto.ca/indigenoushealth/.

Published on: June 8, 2016

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