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Will McLean (left) and Courtney Vaughn (right) speaking at the launch of the 2017 MNO Canoe Expedition at Brittania Beach in Ottawa on May 23.
The 2017 MNO Canoe Expedition was lauched at Brittania Beach in Ottawa on May 23. Part of the ceremony included remarks by two members of the Canoe Expedition, Will McLean and Courtney Vaughn. Below is the text of their comments:
Courtney: Bonjour, Boozhoo, Aanii, tannshi, hello. Welcome everyone to this very special day as we launch off on an incredible journey across the province. We thank you for joining us as we embark on an experience of a lifetime.
Will: We are so excited to be part of the team of 17 Metis youth who will be canoeing the old fur trade route from Ottawa to Kenora. The many stops in our communities along the way and the completion of such a long and gruelling journey is such an incredible opportunity for our personal growth as Metis youth. We are both so honoured to have the opportunity to help celebrate, perpetuate, and inform Canadians across Ontario about a culture we are proud to be a part of. You’ve heard a lot of reasons about why this expedition is so important for the Metis Nation of Ontario, but we’re here to share with you some of the reasons us youth are so grateful to be partaking in this experience.
Courtney: I personally am excited to be connecting to my ancestors and to the land and water which sustained them. As the Metis people, it is our responsibility to be stewards of the water and I am looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of this connection my ancestors lifestyles embodied – to be challenged by and to rely on the land and water. To connect with our communities the way our ancestors first did and to see how those connections live on today. I look forward to learning from each Metis person who I meet along the way.
Will: Having grown up in Toronto, a place far removed from the traditional Metis way of life, I have found it difficult at times to connect to my culture. A significant motivator for me joining this expedition was to get in touch with a part of myself that I’ve always recognized, but never really explored. Metis culture is holistic in its nature; it finds balance through dance, art, hard work, appreciation for mother earth, and respect for all. I couldn’t be more excited about stepping into my ancestors’ shoes this summer. Paddling their waters and sleeping on the same ground they loved, sweat, and bled on will forever change the way I see myself and my culture.
I think it’s such an incredible thing to see youth so committed to the future of the Metis nation. We are spending three months doing something so difficult, away from the comforts of life today, our homes, and our families. We are committed to gaining a firsthand understanding of our culture in order to educate ourselves and others, and preserve our way of life for future generations.
Courtney: These are our reasons for joining the expedition, but there are 17 of us, all with individual intentions and hopes for the summer, as well as connections to the different communities along the way. We all have a story to share and hope that you will meet with us on our journey to learn from us as we hope to learn from you. Please connect with us on route, or even on Facebook! There are many ways to follow us as we progress through this historic and exciting adventure.
Will: What a phenomenal opportunity for we, as the Metis Nation of Ontario, to celebrate our history and future, to celebrate our resilient culture and people who have stayed strong, proud, and distinct for over 150 years. Canada wouldn’t exist as it does without the contributions of the Metis people. We are excited to engage with our communities and all other Canadians in celebrating our heritage and our culture. We thank you so much for your support today and look forward to seeing you again at some point along our journey. Miigwich. Marci. Thank you.