Submitted by: MNO Georgian Bay Métis Council Chairperson Larry J. Ferris

MNO GBMC Volunteers - Tree Planting
Volunteers with the MNO Georgian Bay Métis Council and
students and faculty of Lakehead University, Orillia Campus
Click here for larger picture.
The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Georgian Bay Métis Council (GBMC) has completed another successful tree planting project, this time at the Orillia campus of Lakehead University.

The University has property set aside for Indigenous students and staff and part of the property is a garden zone that includes Indigenous plants used for food, medicine and ceremony.

This property already includes a Three Sisters Garden planted by the Orillia Native Women’s Group and another local group Ambe Tigadaw, which brings attention to food security issues for Indigenous people. There are also allotment-based community gardens in Orillia operated by the city.

The MNO GBMC was asked to help out with the trees planting. The Council carefully prepared a list of trees that Métis historically used, including Cedar (a traditional medicinal plant), Saskatoon Berry (used to make pemmican), Spruce (used in spruce tip tea) and Sugar Maple (used for maple syrup).

Planting the trees was a community effort. Planters included faculty and students, representatives from the Orillia Native Women’s Group and MNO GBMC volunteers.

MNO GBMC Senator Ken “Two Dogs” Fraser started the event with a smudging and a prayer. For some of the participants it was their first smudging. Pat Taylor, the MNO GBMC’s Women Representative, drummed and sang a song. As always, she was a strong voice for the women.

Greg and Heather Garratt were fantastic ambassadors of the MNO GBMC and members of the community believe Greg deserves the Aboriginal name “Many Hats.”

After the openings and introductions, MNO GBMC volunteers planted the trees. It was very nice to have the young students helping out. Not only were they able to do the jobs quickly, they brought great enthusiasm.

Council members were able to talk to other planters and answer some questions. There were great discussions with the Lakehead University staff about further partnerships. Allysha Wassegijig, the Aboriginal Initiatives Coordinator for the Orillia Campus, has been partnering with Provisional Council of Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Post-Secondary Representative Kaitlyn LaCroix.

A big thank you goes out to the MNO GBMC volunteers for their hard work and to Lakehead University for so warmly receiving the Council, especially with Wassegijib and Dr. Linda Rodenburg.

The MNO GBMC recognizes and thanks the Central Canada Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee for their generous grant that allowed the MNO GBMC to undertake this project.

Posted: October 27, 2017