Hosted by MNO Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council

Submitted by: Ted McNally

Oshawa Festival 1
The Métis Heritage Celebration was held from June
12-22 by the MNO Oshawa and Durham Region Métis

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council, would like to apologise to any unsuspecting motorists, traveling north on Simcoe Street, or south on Centre Street, the weekend of June 21 – 22. The sight of tipis set up in a park of a major urban centre may have caused more than a few motorists to experience one of those “what the…” moments that we all have from time to time. Many found a parking spot and walked back to join the hundreds of others who were helping celebrate the Council’s 8th Annual Métis Heritage Celebration.

The festivities began with MNO Veterans Guy Mandeville and Christopher Plummer, as well as Council Vice President Kevin Henry marching in and posting the colours, followed by a prayer offered by Senator Cecile Wagar. Honorary Senator Olivine Bousquet Tiedma spoke on the 10th anniversary of the Council’s conception and Senator Joseph Poirtras brought greetings on behalf of MNO President Gary Lipinski. Greetings were also offered by newly elected Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Jennifer French and Oshawa Mayor John Henry, who along with the Oshawa City Council, have constantly proved that they are true friends and partners in Council celebrations.

Oshawa Festival 2
MNO Senator Joseph Poitras brought greetings on
behalf of MNO President Lipinski at the 2014 Métis
Heritage Celebration.

After smudging, Council President Kristin Randall offered a warm welcome to all the many guests. Métis have never been accused of not having good singing voices, and this was proved when Youth Representative Auriele Diotte sang Oh Canada, and Métis Youth Shadi Shabanian-Azad offered the Métis anthem.

Serge Gagnon returned as the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the weekend, and switching back and forth between French and English, faster than many can change their minds, took control of the stage, and began to introduce the many talented entertainers.

Headliners Ariko (The Lefaive Family) from the Penetanguishene area, Métis fiddler Alicia Blore, All Our Relations Drum Circle, The Oshawa Métis Fiddlers, Olivine Bousquet Métis dancer Auriele Diotte and Métis fiddler Rudy Couture from Owen Sound kept “toes a tappin”, all weekend long. The entertainment spilled out into the park as Virginia Barter and Claire Kearns told stories of Métis culture and heritage. Marilyn Woodbridge gave the Medicine Wheel teachings, and people who previously didn’t know which end of the fiddle got tucked under your chin, were soon, actually playing a tune. When they joined in with “Ariko’s” fiddle workshop, and Métis step dancer Auriele Diotte soon convinced visitors that they didn’t have two left feet after all.

As well as learning about the 26 foot birch bark canoe and Red River cart, guests got to see the many Métis cultural artifacts put on display by Andre and Brenda Bosse and good friends Archie and Pierrette Martin. Métis crafts, beadwork, moccasin making, sash finger weaving were being demonstrated by MNO Veteran’s Senator Alis Kennedy and Louise Vien. The Métis veterans opened many eyes to the tremendous contributions Aboriginal peoples made, in all the conflicts in which the country found itself.

A great time was had by all, and of course none of it would have been possible, without the “more than generous” sponsorship, in grants and “in kind” donations, from Celebrate Canada (Canadian Heritage/Patrimoinie Canadien), The City of Oshawa, and Ontario Power Generation. Hats off to the Council, their hard working volunteers, and all exhibiters and vendors, both returning and new. A special thank you goes to photographer Andree Wagar.