Submitted by: Benny Michaud, MNO Ottawa Métis Council President

Halfbreed Hustle
Participants enjoy the variety of entertainment at
the Halfbreed Hustle event in Ottawa.

On November 16, 2014, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Ottawa Métis Council (OMC) participated in Ottawa’s Annual Halfbreed Hustle to commemorate the life and vision of Louis Riel. Benny Michaud, MNO OMC President, has been a part of the Halfbreed Hustle Organizing Committee for the past two years. Initiated by four Métis women from Ottawa, the Halfbreed Hustle took place for the first time last year at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health (Wabano) and was an incredible success drawing over 100 people.

This year, the event was once again held in Wabano’s cultural gathering space and saw approximately 200 people in attendance, making it the largest and fastest growing Métis event in the city!

The evening was filled with dancing and music provided by country music singer Kevin Schofield, fiddler Anthony Brascoupe, guitarist David Finkle, and jigger extraordinaire, Jaime Koebel. With a delicious selection of food and beverages catered by Wabano, and a plethora of vendors selling Métis and First Nations artwork and crafts, there was no shortage of things to do when not on the dance floor.

In preparation of the event, MNO OMC members sold council tote bags and Halfbreed Hustle shirts to raise money. Vendors were also asked to donate an item to be raffled throughout the night. All of the proceeds raised will be put towards next year’s Halfbreed Hustle.

“We intended the event to be one big Métis barn party,” said President Michaud. “We want to bring the community together to celebrate the vision that Louis Riel had for our people—the vision being that 130 years after Louis Riel’s execution, we are able to come together on a night like tonight and celebrate the survival of our people and the beauty of Métis culture.”

This past June at a strategic planning meeting, the MNO OMC identified ‘engaging youth’ as one of their essential mandates. The MNO OMC were therefore pleased to see so many Métis youth present at the event. By supporting the Halfbreed Hustle, the MNO OMC have also seen an increase in the number of young people wanting to become involved in the Métis community.

One of the MNO OMC’s goals is to promote awareness of Métis culture and to foster a greater sense of pride among our citizens. Planning has already begun for next year’s event, which is sure to be a larger and even more successful!