The Métis Nation of Ontario’s (MNO) summer Métis youth cultural camp, “Été”, ran from August 17 to 20, 2020, but what normally would have been a week on the land in northern Ontario was a little different this year.
Instead of bringing kids to camp, the MNO brought camp to the kids! Through careful planning the Education and Training branch developed an “at-home” version that had the kids learn what they would have at camp from the safety of their homes.
The MNO cultural camps offer high school students in Grades 10-12 a unique opportunity to experience Métis culture and way of life. There are several camps per year in conjunction with the seasons and the youth are taught how Métis would survive and thrive in each of them.
Été focused on Summer — once the ice and snow melt it was time for Métis men and women to make their way out into the forests to replenish reserves they used during the winter. Métis youth from across the province learned how to live on and cultivate the land, how to catch and clean fish, how to salt and pickle food for storage and even how to finger weave and bead!
Of course this year, all this learning had to be done remotely. The youth connected to the MNO staff and their fellow campers via Zoom. While the participants missed the in-person aspect of the camp they said they still learned a lot.
camp is having the conversation of living off the land which is a key part of the camps and I think we were still able to replicate that.” said Scott Carpenter, MNO Manager of Projects and Partnership.Cortnee Buchanan, the project coordinator for the camp echoes this sentiment though she knows the changes made still helped the kids connect to their culture, albeit a little differently.
“On the land is always the best way to learn, but we worked to make each workshop as engaging and interactive as possible,” said Buchanan.
“And rather than bringing the participants to camp, we sent camp to them! They each received a camp kit and in it were the materials for each workshop. Our goal was to provide materials they could use to practice the skills and knowledge at home with their families.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues the MNO continues to provide a full suite of programs and services to the Ontario Métis community while also adhering to Provincial and local health department guidelines.