Weaving the Sash: Toronto and York Métis youth granted $25,000 for cultural community-based program

weaving the sash youthFrom left: MNO TYRMC Youth Representative Christine
Skura, MNO TYRMC  President Tera Beaulieu, MNO
TYRMC Women's Representative Lindsay DuPré (back),
MNO citizen Alicia Blore and MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator
Elise St. Germain.
Submitted by MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator Elise St. Germain

“I want to give other Métis youth the same experiences that I had growing up,” said Christine Skura at the first official meeting of the leaders of a brand new initiative for urban Métis youth called Weaving the Sash: Métis youth, culture, and connection.

Skura, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) Youth Representative, brought together a group of spirited and community-minded young women--Alicia Blore, Elise St. Germain and Lindsay DuPré--to partner with the MNO TYRMC on a project that will take place over the next year. The project will offer urban Métis youth the cultural experiences that they may not otherwise have access to and a chance to build relationships with Senators and Elders, knowledge holders, the land, and each other.

With the invaluable guidance of MNO TYRMC President Tera Beaulieu, the group applied for the Laidlaw Foundation’s Youth-led Community Change Program’s annual grant. In May 2015, the group was ecstatic to hear that they had been granted the maximum amount of $25,000, an impressive achievement.

With its Youth-led Community Change Program, the Laidlaw Foundation seeks to empower youth with “wildcard” ideas to create the critical change they want to see in their communities and to have the conversations that may not be happening anywhere else. Skura, Blore, St. Germain, DuPré and the MNO TYRMC are very grateful to the Laidlaw Foundation for the opportunity to strengthen the diverse and vibrant urban Métis youth community and, by extension, the broader Métis and Aboriginal communities of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The young women organizing Weaving the Sash have strong ties to the MNO.

Skura is a Registered Nurse and graduate of Ryerson University. She is an MNO citizen and is currently the Youth Representative of the MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council. At a young age, Skura was closely involved with the Métis community and is passionate about the community and staying connected to her heritage.

Blore has recently graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and Gerontology. Also a highly involved and knowledgeable MNO citizen, Blore has had the chance to build a strong Métis identity and has experienced the positive impacts that cultural-based programming can have and would like to provide that opportunity to other youth.

St. Germain is entering her fourth year of Aboriginal Studies and Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto. She is eager to collaborate on this project because she has a vision for a network of Métis youth, Senators and Elders connected to the land, sharing knowledge and supporting one another: something she did not have while growing up. She is an MNO Infinite Reach Youth Facilitator for the University of Toronto.

DuPré recently completed her Master of Social Work degree specializing in social justice and diversity. She is very grateful and proud to be joining the MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council as their Women’s Representative and looks forward to exploring Métis identity, community building, and youth leadership through this project. She is also an MNO citizen.

With this grant, the leaders of Weaving the Sash hope to reach the youth of the GTA and surrounding regions. While they continue to gain visibility in the broader Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, there remains a shortage of culture-based programming for Métis people, specifically Métis youth, in these areas.

Weaving the Sash aims to offer culture-based programming that will strengthen Métis youth identity, create a network of Métis youth in the GTA, build relationships with traditional knowledge holders like Senators and Elders, increase knowledge about Métis culture and history, promote healthy living, and reconnect Métis youth with the land.

These goals will be accomplished with a four-part event beginning in the Fall of 2015 and running until the Summer of 2016, with one event offered per season. The programming will include workshops on identity, history, arts and crafts, language, and traditional ways of life on the land, amongst other aspects of Métis culture.

Before the first event takes place this fall, there will be two Weaving the Sash sharing circles held, one in Toronto and the second in the York Region, where Métis youth will be invited to share their ideas for the culture-based workshops they would like to see offered. An online survey has also been developed for Métis youth to fill out as the youth leaders hope to gain feedback and direction from Métis youth in the community to guide the project.

For youth who wish to contribute ideas for the cultural programming, please complete the online survey at: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/zHidXf

Senators and Elders hold the traditional knowledge and skills of the land and culture, but it is the task of the youth to seek this knowledge in an honouring way. The leaders hope to show with this project that young Métis people are prepared to carry out their responsibilities to the MNO’s wonderful community and to show off their Métis pride to the rest of the GTA and surrounding areas.

For more information on the project and to find out how to get involved, including attending the sharing circles or cultural events, please contact tyrmc.youth@gmail.com.

For regular updates about the project, please visit the MNO TYRMC at http://www.torontoyorkmetis.com/ and also check out their Facebook and Twitter (@TOYorkMetis) accounts for regular updates.

See ALL news articles