MNO Council celebrates National Aboriginal History month

Submitted by: MNO TYRMC President Tera Beaulieu and Chair Todd Ross

AGM 2016
The MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council and
AGM keynote speaker: (L-R) Councillor Justin Kogler,
Senator Constance Simmonds, President Tera Beaulieu,
AGM Keynote and MNO Citizen Dr. Lynn Lavallée,
Secretary-Treasurer Marilyn Hew, and Chair Todd Ross.
Click here to view a larger version.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) had a busy June participating in several events for National Aboriginal History month!

Annual General Meeting

The MNO TYRMC held their Third Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, June 4, 2016. The AGM, which was preceded by the council’s monthly business meeting, was held at Anishnawbe Health Toronto—a community health centre that provides culturally specific and integrated holistic healthcare to the Aboriginal community of Toronto. MNO TYRMC Councillors in attendance included President Tera Beaulieu, Chair Todd Ross, Secretary/Treasurer Marilyn Hew, Senator Constance Simmonds, and Councillor Justin Kogler, with Youth Representative Christine Skura sending her regrets.

Upon arrival, MNO citizens and Métis community membersJiggingPresident Beaulieu (second from left) leads MNO citizens in
the 7-step Métis jig at the MNO TYRMC AGM. Click here to
view a larger version.
mingled before they were invited to join in a feast for lunch. After the AGM was officially called to order by Chair Ross, Senator Simmonds led everyone in an opening prayer. President Beaulieu then welcomed those in attendance highlighting the AGM’s theme—Métis health and well-being. In her opening remarks, President Beaulieu acknowledged the traditional territory of the Mississauga’s of the New Credit First Nation and offered gratitude to them and the other Indigenous peoples who have historically taken care of the land within the Toronto and York Region boundary. President Beaulieu also expressed thanks to each of the MNO TYRMC Councillors for their dedicated and committed work over the last year, noting that the Council had a successful year busy with cultural-based gatherings for the community of Toronto and York Region.

Shifting gears, President Beaulieu kicked off the ExecutivePaddle the RougeMNO citizens and special guests including Prime Minister
Trudeau pose for a picture at the Paddle the Rouge event.
(L-R): Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Senator Constance
Simmonds, Ella-Grace Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, Chair Todd Ross, and MNO Citizen Virginia
Barter. Click here to view a larger version.
Council Reports with her report on the Region 8 Consultation Committee and highlighted the Council’s key achievements over the past year. These achievements included: participating in the precedent setting proponent engagements; participating in the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games; successfully being awarded a $25,000 grant from the Laidlaw Foundation; participating in the Paddle the Don and Paddle the Rouge events; hosting numerous cultural events, including a drum-making workshop, an evening of jigging and fiddling, and a beading circle; and, writing and publishing several articles detailing the Council’s work.

Senator Simmonds was up next to deliver a report outlining the numerous cultural initiatives she has participated in and led over the last year, which included: joining and representing the MNO TYRMC on several new committees; launching a Na-Me-Res Pow WowSecretary/Treasurer Marilyn Hew (left) with MNO citizen
Suzanne Brunelle (right) at the Na-me-res Pow Wow. Click
here to view a larger version.
Women’s Circle at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto; and, providing personal support to Métis individuals in the community.

Secretary/Treasurer Hew then presented the Council’s financial report, which provided an overview and explanation of monies received through the New Relationship Fund. It was noted that this year the MNO TYRMC had successfully earned the largest revenue to date through a variety of initiatives, including the sale of goods and the delivery of educational workshops and presentations on Métis history, culture and community.

Once the Executive Council reports were completed, President Beaulieu provided an overview of the Council’s Strategic Plan as well as key achievements from the various internal MNO TYRMC committees. Some of these included highlights from the Communications Committee, including maintenance of theNative Canadian Centre’s NAHM(L-R) Chair Todd Ross, Minister of Indigenous and
Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, Secretary/Treasurer
Marilyn Hew, and MNO staff Jean Appel at the Native
Canadian Centre’s National Aboriginal History Month
Celebration. Click here to view a larger version.
MNO TYRMC website (www.torontoyorkmetis.com), Twitter (@TOYorkMetis), and Facebook, with a continued focus on reaching out to citizens for their email addresses to ensure they are aware of Council events in a timely manner.

Another key achievement for the MNO TYRMC was through the work of their Youth Committee, led by Youth Representative Skura. Under her leadership, the Youth Committee was successful in obtaining a $25,000 grant from the Laidlaw Foundation to host Métis youth and knowledge keeper cultural exchanges in 2015-2016. Entitled Weaving the Sash, this cultural youth-led initiative has been highly successful in building the Métis youth community of the Toronto and York Region, with each of the events having a waitlist for participation, and the Youth Committee receiving ongoing recognition and invitations to present on their extraordinary work.

Chair Ross next reviewed the work of the Sustainability Committee, which included an exciting new project with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO). As a result of a generous donation from the Royal Bank of Canada, CESO has been funded to work with the MNO TYRMC to develop a corporate social responsibility strategy that will support the Council in its fundraising efforts to host cultural community events over the next several years.

As part of the Health Committee update, Chair Ross also introduced the AGM keynote speaker—Dr. Lynn Lavallée, who delivered an engaging and interactive talk on the health needs of Métis individuals. Those in attendance were welcomed to share and reflect on their own Métis family ancestry, with Dr. Lavallée continuing to discuss the relationship between Métis identity, health and well-being.

MNO staff Sabrina Roy also presented on MNO Healing and Wellness programs and services and facilitated a dot art exercise. Various Métis vendors were also in attendance selling goods, which included a table set up by the MNO TYRMC that offered Métis specific merchandise, including sashes, firebags, spoons, pins, and infinity flags.

The AGM was concluded with a musical performance from MNO staff and citizen Alicia Blore on fiddle and MNO citizen Liam Blore on guitar. President Beaulieu also led the group in learning Métis jigging, including the basic step, Red River Jig, and 7-step group dance. Once the final group dance ended, President Beaulieu offered closing remarks to the circle, thanking each person for attending the AGM and supporting the Council in its work and initiatives moving forward. Senator Simmonds offered a final closing prayer to the circle of participants and best wishes for safe travels home were shared by all.

The MNO TYRMC would like to express its sincere thanks to MNO citizens, community members, and staff for joining in to celebrate the work of its Councillors over the past year, as well as providing direction and guidance for the coming year. The MNO TYRMC Councillors were inspired by the strength and vitality of the Métis community of the Toronto and York Region and they greatly look forward to meeting with new citizens and connecting with old friends over the next year.

Paddle the Rouge

On Saturday June 18, the MNO TYRMC partnered with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) at the Paddle the Rouge event. Senator Simmonds was invited to give an opening prayer and brothers Danton and MNO citizen Nicholas Delbaere-Sawchuk provided a musical performance as special guests arrived, which included: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Minister of Environment and Climate Change Katherine McKenna; Minister of Economic Development and Growth Brad Duguid; and, a number of MPs and MPPs. A special announcement was made to declare that the Rouge would be named a National Park. As they prepared to take their canoes out for a paddle, Prime Minister Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace Trudeau posed for a photo with Chair Ross, MNO citizen Virginia Barter and Senator Simmonds. The MNO TYRMC spent the remainder of the day speaking to the paddle participants at a historical display that was set up by Barter, which showcased Métis history and culture.  

Na-Me-Res Pow Wow

Across the city on June 18, Secretary/Treasurer Hew, Councillor Kogler, Councillor Jonquil Peel, MNO citizen Robyn Grant-Moran and Jess Beaulieu had a busy afternoon selling Métis products at the Na-Me-Res Pow Wow at the historic Fort York. This year’s Pow Wow was attended by over 12,000 people. MNO TYRMC Councillors had a fantastic day engaging the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community of Toronto in discussing the Métis Nation!

Sunrise ceremony

On the morning of June 21, Chair Ross participated in the sunrise ceremony hosted by the Toronto City Council. Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister David Zimmer and Mayor John Tory were in attendance and braved the 5:30 a.m. start. Chair Ross has participated in the sunrise ceremony for many years to mark the City of Toronto’s commitment to celebrating National Aboriginal History Month.

Native Canadian Centre’s National Aboriginal History Month Celebration

On Thursday June 23, Secretary/Treasurer Hew, Chair Ross, President Beaulieu and MNO staff Jean Appel, set up a table to provide information and to sell Métis goods at the Native Canadian Centre’s National Aboriginal History Month Celebration. Special guest Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, attended the event and stopped by the Council’s table. Later in the afternoon, the newly formed jig group—the Toronto Métis Jiggers, performed a number of dances, accompanied by the musical talents of MNO staff and citizen Alicia Blore on fiddle and MNO citizen Liam Blore on guitar. The Toronto Métis Jiggers received an invitation to perform as the headlining Métis group for the celebration and introduced the crowd of approximately 1000 people to the musical and dance traditions of the Métis Nation!  MNO Summer Youth Cultural Program staff Kyle Burton, Joanna Burt, Simone Blais, and Shanese Steele performed close to 10 Métis jigs, while President Beaulieu emceed the performance and shared teachings on Métis cultural traditions with the crowd, including the significance of the sash and the infinity symbol. The performance was widely applauded by the audience, with the group receiving several accolades and requests for pictures following their performance.

TD Bank Luncheon: The Daniels’ decision and Métis people in Canada

Finally, on Friday, June 24, Chair Ross and MNO citizen Kelly Campagnola spoke at a TD Bank luncheon series on the Daniel’s decision and the current political landscape for Métis people in Canada. This was the Council’s third invitation to deliver educational talks at TD Bank with their employees. Partnering on such educational initiatives with various groups and corporations is a high priority for the MNO TYRMC. The Council strongly believes that sharing knowledge with the general public on the Métis Nation is a wonderful example of truth and reconciliation efforts at the community level.

Published on: September 1, 2016

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