The leaders of tomorrow, today
Young Métis are stepping up to fill leadership positions in the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) and among them are Jennifer Henry, Provisional Council of the MNO (PCMNO) Post-secondary Representative; Mitch Case, PCMNO Youth Representative; and MNO Youth Council (MNOYC) representatives Kristie Cauette, Janine Landry, Brianne Gosselin, Sylvie Forest, Phoebe Mandry, Kyle Grenier, Nicholas Delbarere-Sawchuk and Alexander Young.
The MNOYC is part of the MNO governance structure with the mandate to identify issues impacting Métis youth and to work with the MNO to ensure those issues are addressed. Métis youth are represented by the PCMNO Youth Representative, who holds a voting seat on the PCMNO and each MNO community council has a position for a local Youth Representative who promotes youth initiatives, works directly with the MNOYC and represents the voice of Métis youth in his or her area.
Members of the MNOYC take part in meetings across the province, including the MNO’s Annual General Assembly, attend national conferences such as the National Métis Youth Role Model Conference and also sit on the Métis National Advisory Council. The MNOYC representatives are elected in province-wide elections held every three years.
“Our mandate is to prepare and make sure we are ready to someday do our part in the leadership of the Métis Nation,” said Case. “We try to involve ourselves as much as we can to bring the youth voice and opinion to all aspects of the Métis nation.”
Participation at the community, regional and provincial level enables Métis youth across Ontario to have a voice and ensures Métis youth are engaged in all levels of governance, decision-making and policy-making, both within and outside of the MNO.
“It is crucial for our future as a people,” said MNO President Gary Lipinski, “that we not only have the youth perspective in all the activities of the MNO but work together to create institutions and provide services that allow Métis youth and children to be all they can be.”
As the PCMNO Post-secondary Representative, Henry represents the youth voice at the post-secondary level. She gathers knowledge, creates a network, makes connections and supports Métis students who are pursuing a post-secondary education.
“Getting involved with the MNO has given me experience that many organizations and committees are looking for,” said Henry. “By having many years of volunteer experience I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many unique conferences as both a youth panel member and workshop facilitator.”
Recently, Henry has represented the Métis youth voice at conferences such as: Circle of Light: First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education, the Aboriginal Education Advisory Circle, and the Minister of Education’s Student Advisory Council.
“We need to let our voices be heard as we have a strong and important voice in our communities,” said Henry. “We are the future, therefore we need to ensure that we encourage our youth to emerge as the next generation of leaders.”