The Ontario Early Years Centre in Nipissing embraces the Métis community

Submitted by: Amanda Benedict, MNO Métis Healthy Babies Healthy Children Coordinator

Ontario Early Years Centre Nipissing
This beaded artwork was gifted to the OEYC by the MNO
North Bay office staff. Art by Amanda Benedict, MNO Métis
Healthy Babies Healthy Children Coordinator. Click here to
view a larger version of the picture.

On October 7, 2016, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) office in North Bay facilitated a Community Kitchen workshop for families at the Ontario Early Years Centre, Nipissing (OEYC). The centre provides a safe and accessible location in the centre of the community for participants to attend programming. MNO staff are very grateful to always be welcomed at the OEYC.

To begin the workshop, participants learned how to make nutritious smoothies using a variety of fruits and vegetables. Since attending the workshop, many participants say that they have continued to use the recipes to increase their children’s vegetable intake.

The second part of the workshop focused on cooking with the seasons, where families had the opportunity to learn how to make meals on a modest budget. Families were then guided in preparing a meal using whole foods as opposed to processed foods, which many found empowering. Participants also got the chance to work with some uncommon but highly nutritious vegetables. While working in the kitchen, participants were able to help themselves to a healthy and delicious hamburger soup.

This partnership with the OEYC is an example of one of the positive community connections that the MNO has established with organizations that embrace Métis programming.

“The connections between [the MNO] and the OEYC Nipissing has been inspiring for many of our families to see how closely our staff teams have been working together to support them,” says OEYC Manager Kcristal Speiss. “The positive engagement that has been weaved through the two programs working together has benefited many families in a seamless system.”  

In particular, the MNO Métis Healthy Babies Healthy Children (MHBHC) program has had active involvement at the OEYC. Programming includes the Strengthening Family Connections Workshop, which uses traditional crafting to bring families together to learn about role modeling and self-esteem.

“This unique program continues to be a hallmark demonstration of what can happen when we put families at the centre of all we do together,” says Speiss.

MNO staff along with the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network, Charlee’s Angel Bears, and the OEYC has also established a peer-support group on pregnancy and infant loss called the Empty Arms Compassionate Café, which will run for two years. This group provides a safety net for parents’ emotions in the aftermath of a loss and hosts a monthly drop-in meeting.

In recognition of their partnership, Benedict presented the OEYC with a Métis-inspired artwork she made, which she displayed on a Hudson’s Bay blanket. The piece is reflective of dot art and has the vibrant colours, balance, and interconnectedness common to Métis art. The piece was gifted with the intention that it will promote discussion and create awareness of Métis people's place in the community while embracing inclusiveness.

“We are so thankful for the meaningful partnerships in our community and hope to reconnect with others who have been supportive in the past and as our community grows together,” Benedict says. 

Published on: November 28, 2016

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