Georgian Bay Métis Council holds long-awaited Rendezvous in Penetanguishene

Celebration was the theme of the day as the Georgian Bay Métis Council (GBMC) held their long-awaited Rendezvous at Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishene on June 19, 2022.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began community members gathered to experience music, arts, food, friendship and some local Métis history.

“What happened here today is we brought the community together,” said GBMC President Greg Garratt.

“After two years of not being able to do anything because of the pandemic, we’ve seen the results of people wanting to get out socialize today and be part of their Métis community and we have a fantastic community.”

Artisans from all around the bay, most of which were Indigenous-owned and operated displayed their wares at the Rendezvous. The MNO Registry was also on hand to assist with MNO citizenship applications as well as provide some historical background for Métis in the area.

In partnership with the GBMC, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) was on hand to showcase their work in nuclear waste disposal in the area.

Dozens of volunteers helped to make the day a success.

“Volunteers played a very crucial part in helping with the setup,” said GBMC Chair Ron LePage.

“We would not have been able to function without the volunteers. There’s only so many people on the council, we were all busy with our own roles. But the volunteers just stepped in and they were helping out with every aspect of the Rendezvous, making sure everything ran smoothly. Thank you very much to all the volunteers”

For everyone in the community, having the ability to get together and celebrate after two-and-a-half years of pandemic was important and the mood at the event was apparent.

“I think definitely getting to see everyone again was the best part of today,” said Jeff Semple, a citizen of the MNO, former MNO youth councillor and Penetanguishene resident.

“It’s been two, two and a half years and it’s so nice to catch up. I think it’s been really mentally good for everyone and good for the community.”

The Rendezvous was held at Discovery Harbor, one of the first locations the 30 Drummond Island Métis families landed after they were forced to leave the Sault Ste. Marie area following the War of 1812.

Each year at the Rendezvous, the GBMC focusses on a particular Drummond Island family. This year it was the Labatte family who left Drummond Island in 1827 and settled in Penetanguishene where they built a homestead that still stands to this day! The Labatte family is one of the Root Ancestor Métis families in the Georgian Bay.

Dylan Miner is a Métis historian, university professor and MNO citizen was at the event and spoke to the importance of the history of the area, its importance today.

“When we look back at the history of halfbreed communities here in the upper Great Lakes, I think that you see a number of important spaces,” said Miner.

“When we look at the historic record, we see connections between those different communities for many different generations over time. I think that ongoing historic connections and the ways that those connections exist and persist to the present is very important.”

For more information on the MNO’s local councils and events please visit the MNO’s Community Councils page!