Participants in the Moccasin-making Workshop inGuelph. Click here for larger picture.

To say that the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) was very busy between May and August, 2017; would plain and simply be an understatement! Besides welcoming the MNO Canoe Expedition council members somehow found time to hold not one but two different moccasin-making workshops, celebrate National Aboriginal Day and Canada 150, host a Family Fun Night, tour the head office of the North American Fur Auction and hold their own Annual General Meeting.

MNO GRMC tours North American Fur Auctions head office
Submitted by Colleen Brunelle Women’s Representative

On May 10, members of the MNO GRMC toured the North America Fur Auctions (NAFA) head office in Toronto. NAFA is a Canadian company that auctions on consignment fur pelts harvested in Canada and the United States. Its services are used by both large fur farms and small-time trappers. Its auctions are held three to four times a year in Toronto. It is the largest fur auction house in North America, and the second largest in the world.

Fur Tour (2)
With the 3 bears (left-right) MNO GRMC PresidentJennifer Parkinson, Region 9 PCMNO Councilorand Captain of the Hunt Peter Rivers, MNO GRMCWomen’s Representative Colleen Brunelle. Click here for larger picture.
NAFA is the successor to the Hudson’s Bay Company‘s Canadian and American fur auction businesses, which were spun off in 1987 and 1989, respectively.

NAFA’s annual spring sale took place between May 8and 14this year. Spring sale dates focus largely on a vast array of wild-trapped fur from all across Canada and North America. The tour was able to showcase over 690,000 wild pelt lots. This included timber wolves, wolverines, bears, cougars, wild fox, beaver, fishers, lynx, otter and wild mink. It is reasonable to believe that many of these were trapped by MNO citizens. Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Region 9 Councilor, Peter Rivers, was astounded to learn of the value placed on two particularly handsome timber wolf pelts.

Also on auction during this week, were more than 3,081,000 lots of various ranched mink and ranched silver and red fox pelts. The mink colour variations ranged over 17 mutations with numerous grading levels within each color. Senior grading expert, Murray Parkinson explained techniques used in grading fur as well as desirable and flawed differences between pelts.

Members of the MNO GRMC were able to learn of pelting techniques and fur processing through to auction consignment. It was an experience where one could appreciate fur at a professional level and value it as a green, renewable product that is good for the environment. Wild trapped fur still remains a source of income and economic stability for many MNO citizens.

The MNO GRMC would like to thank Senior Grader- Murray Parkinson and Director of Rancher Relations for Canada Wayne Booth for facilitating this excellent learning opportunity.

MNO GRMC Annual General Meeting
Submitted by MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson

On Saturday, May 27, 2017, the MNO GRMC held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Family Centre in Kitchener. Senator Carol Lévis opened the meeting with a prayer. President Jennifer Parkinson recapped Council’s many MNO GRMC AGA (1)
(Left-right) MNO GRMC Senator Carol Lévis, Councilor
Diane Kilby and Chair Dave Skene at the MNO GRMC
Annual General Meeting. Click here for larger picture.
activities and achievements over the past year and praised and thanked the dedicated MNO GRMC members and citizen volunteers. Treasurer Leslie Muma provided an update on the MNO GRMC’s finances.

MNO citizen and University of Waterloo Professor, Dr. John Lewis provided a presentation on the grant he is working on with the Ontario Government that will look at the need for an age-friendly, community-planning framework that will enhance the quality of life for Métis and First Nations elders.

After enjoying lunch together, everyone tried their hand at decorating rocks with Métis dot art. Participants aged from two to 70 all tried their hand at creating these beautiful decorative rocks.

After a very successful AGM, everyone is looking forward to next year.

Grand River Family Fun Night
By MNO GRMC Councilor Diane Kilby

To celebrate the launch of the MNO Métis Family Wellbeing program, MNO staff and the MNO GRMC co-hosted a very successful Family Fun Night on May 29, 2017. The MNO Métis Family Wellbeing program now serves the Kitchener, Waterloo and Wellington regions

Bow And Arrow (1)
Young participants demonstrates his skills with a bow and
arrow. Click here for larger picture.
The Family Fun Night took place at the Round Table and Royal Garrison in Guelph and brought together about five dozen citizens and their families from throughout the region. There was something for everyone – from toddlers, to youth and young adults, to parents and grandparents.

Activities ranged from board games for the more sedate, to, and under strict supervision, the throwing sharp objects such as hatchets and knives for those who wanted a bit more spice in their evening. There was even the chance to hone one’s bow and arrow skills.

Of course, it was a Métis Family Fun Night which meant that there was lots of good food and general good company. Everyone enjoyed the chance to come together and socialize. This event was so universally popular that the Council is considering making it an annual event.

Grand River Moccasin Workshops
By MNO GRMC Councilor Diane Kilby

Young Moccasin Workshop Participant (2)
Instructor Kathryn Edgecome helps a young Moccasin Workshop participant with her sewing.Click here for larger picture.
Like other MNO chartered councils across Ontario, the MNO GRMC is firmly committed to building cultural awareness and skills for MNO citizens and their families. Accordingly, the Council held Moccasin Making Workshops both in Kitchener on June 3 and in Guelph on June 4. Holding workshops in two centres made participation more accessible for citizens from around the region.

Prior to the workshop, the instructor, Kathryn Edgecombe, had asked all participants to send her their foot measurements so she could cut pattern pieces for all attendees. At each workshop, she guided participants gently through the process of making their own moccasins.

Participants ranged in age from six to 70 and together they punched holes, threaded needles and sewed their moccasins together. There was such pride and joy at the end of each workshop when each person put on their new moccasins. One young participant refused to take her moccasins off and proudly announced that she had made them herself!

The MNO GRMC part of National Aboriginal Day in Guelph and Kitchener
Submitted by MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson

June 21, 2017, National Aboriginal Day, was another busy day in the life of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council (GRMC). For Council members, the day started at the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener where they shared Métis 101 with students from across the Waterloo Region. The day was broken into four workshops with 30 students at each session. The MNO GRMC Open Ceremonies NAD (2)
MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson speakingduring opening ceremonies for National AboriginalDay events in Guelph. Click here for larger picture
students had fun learning about Métis culture and history while guessing, which furs came from which animal. They also learned about the Métis sash, Michif, beading and finger weaving. To finish off, the grade three – five students tried Métis jigging. At the end of the day, the Council members rushed off to Guelph to set up for their National Aboriginal Day celebration.

This was the third year that MNO GRMC partnered with the City of Guelph to organize their National Aboriginal Day celebration. Over the last three years, the celebration has grown from 300 participants to over 1000 this year, requiring the city to close Carden Street to accommodate the crowd.

MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson was one of the dignitaries participating in the opening ceremony. She welcomed everyone on behalf of the Métis Nation and talked about how important the day was to the Métis. Other dignitaries and performers included: Adrian Harjo, a First Nations singer, dancer and storyteller; Elder Lois MacDonald who provided the opening prayer; Elder Jan Sherman who talked about the importance of the day; and Guelph Mayor Cameron Guthrie welcomed the crowd on behalf of the City and did a Territorial Acknowledgement. Guelph City Council worked with Elders and Aboriginal community leaders (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) over the last year to write a territorial acknowledgement for the City of Guelph that is now read before every Council meeting and event in the city.

There was a lot to do and see during the three hour celebration and the Métis were a big part of it. MNO staff set up an information booth for visitors where Senator Carol Lévis taught people how to do Métis Dot Art on rocks; Mathew Carpenter and Councilor Alicia Hamilton taught people how to make Woodland beaded bracelets using kits and teachings courtesy of First Nations artist Naomi Smith. Grassroots Catering fed the crowd tacos, bannock and strawberry juice. The MNO GRMC also had a vending table where it sold lots of Métis crafts, sashes, spoons and swag. Métis jigging with Sterling Laverne from Woodstock and Elizabeth from Hamilton and Fiddling with Cassandra Swan from Niagara Region were also big hits.

Other activities during the celebration included drumming from the Guelph Women’s Drum Circle; Wiijii Numgumook Kwe (In Unity Singers); Inuit drumming with Ame Papatsie; a round dance with the Big Drum courtesy of Graham Paradis from Fort Erie; Women’s Jingle dance with Jennifer Martin from Six Nations; and Hoop Dancing from National Champion Hoop Dancer, Ascension Harjo from Six Nations.

Many were still talking about the event in the community weeks later and looking forward to next year.

Celebrating Canada 150 in Kitchener
Submitted by MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson

150 Event
MNO GRMC members at the MNO GRMC culturaltale at Kitchener’s Canada 150 event. From (left-right) MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson,Youth Representative Rebecca Leitch, CouncilorPat St. John, Senator Carol Lévis and CouncilorAlicia Hamilton. Click here for larger picture.
The MNO GRMC participated in the City of Kitchener’s Canada 150 celebration. As part of the festivities Senator Carol Lévis led a crowd of children in playing “Pin the Sash on the Moose.” For four hours blindfolded children kept trying to get the sash on the moose. They all succeeded (with the help of Senator Lévis). President Jennifer Parkinson and Councilor Alicia Hamilton kept the adventurous teens competing in a game of “Poison Circle.” These young competitors kept sending their friends over to learn the traditional game and challenge one another. Treasurer Leslie Muma, Youth Representative. Rebecca Leitch, and Councilor Pat St. John joined the fun at the Council’s cultural table where they provided information about Métis culture and history. They showed visitors furs, traps and sashes along with other items. Great questions were asked and many stories were told.

To help celebrate Canada 150, the MNO GRMC also gave out 175 small Métis flags while sharing the flag’s history. It was great to see all of our flags carried around with the Canadian flags. The wonderful day finished off with an exciting fireworks show. Happy Canada 150!

Posted: September 21, 2017