MNO looking forward to strong ties following the first Provincial Urban Aboriginal Forum

PUAF jiggersMétis jiggers lead the dance during a cultural presentation.

It was all about coming together and working towards building strong ties: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community leaders met, discussed and learned from each other during the Provincial Urban Aboriginal Forum (PUAF), the first to take place in Ontario.

PUAF WandaWanda Botsford (centre) speaking during one of the many PUAF
workshops.

Hosted and organized through a partnership between the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA), the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC), and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA), the PUAF acted as a springboard towards the development of Ontario’s Urban Aboriginal Action Plan, a strategy designed to improve socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples living in urban communities in Ontario. Through this initiative, the MAA committed to coordinate an engagement strategy in consultation with communities, municipalities and the federal government to better align programming directed towards urban Aboriginal communities.

“Start the day in a good way, Provincial Urban Aboriginal Forum: building relationships, improving outcomes,” Zimmer tweeted online, using the hashtag #puaf2016. Federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett sent a video greeting, welcoming the initiatives of the forum and its guests.Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer offered opening comments to a gathering of community leaders and partner organizations in Toronto on March 22 to 23, 2016. 

The MNO was well-represented, hosting an information booth offering knowledge about MNO programs and services available throughout the province. Senator Verna Porter-Brunelle participated in both the opening and closing prayers, standing strong with First Nations and Inuit Elders, and MNO Director of Education and Training Jennifer St. Germain spoke on behalf of Chief Operating Officer Doug Wilson.

Throughout the forum, MNO speakers noticed high attendance during the many panels and workshops organized with PUAF partners. On the first day, MNO staff co-hosted four different workshops. Wanda Botsford participated in Addressing the Needs of Children and Families while Rae-Anna Gardner was one of three speakers during Creating Pathways to Employment Through Skills Development Partnership. The last two workshops of the day included Joanne Meyer as a speaker for the Community Development Through Private Sector Partnerships and Anne Trudel at Wise Practices in District School Board Relationships With Community.On the second and final day, Brian Tucker was one of four speakers for the Making Reconciliation Happen in Mainstream Institutions.

Keynote speakers throughout the forum included Inuit activist and environmental, cultural and human rights advocate Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and Dr. Elaine Todres, Chief Executive Officer of Todres Leadership Counsel. During her closing keynotes, Dr. Todres wore the MNO’s Métis timeline scarf, a gift she received from an MNO gift bag. The timeline scarf depicts the history of Métis culture within Ontario and is an item that can easily help with sharing knowledge on Métis history at any given moment.

The PUAF was also a gathering to share culture and tradition. In addition to informative presentations by MNO staff, cultural performances were also included on the agenda. Métis fiddlers and dancers performed at the end of the first day, drawing participants to join them in both song and dance with Métis youth.

Closing comments of the forum were delivered by Deborah Richardson, Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, ending the two-day forum as an overall success with the possibility for more PUAFs in the future, where Ontario communities can all work together.

Published on: April 5, 2016

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