NAD-ottawaMNO Summer Youth Cultural Program facilitators and
other MNO staff at the summer solstice festival in
Ottawa. Back row (left to right): Brittany Matthews, Sahra
MacLean, Jennifer Lord (with daughters Olivia and
Isabela), Kelly Duquette and Natasha Lafreniere. Front
row: Jennique Belcourt and Celesta Larocque.

On June 21, Métis across the homeland celebrated National Aboriginal Day. In Ottawa, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Ottawa Region Métis Council joined other Aboriginal people at Vincent Massey Park in a week-end festival to celebrate both National Aboriginal Day and the summer solstice, the official arrival of summer.

The Council set up a tent where Children excitedly joined in at the arts and crafts workshops where MNO Summer Youth Cultural Program (SYCP) facilitators helped the kids with Métis dot art, beadwork and pouch making. The MNO SYCP facilitators had participated in similar activities throughout the festival.

Benny Michaud, President of the MNO Ottawa Region Métis Council, warmly greeted Senator Reta Gordon, Executive on the Provisional Council of the MNO, as she stopped by on Sunday afternoon. The two women discussed a beaded vest Michaud was working on.

Facilitators helped the children with their activities. Dot art paintings were then posted to the tent wall for everyone to admire. The facilitators dressed in traditional Métis garments and their sashes were proudly displayed.

”I am grateful for all of the support we have had from the MNO, particularly all the enthusiasm the summer youth students have brought,” Michaud stated.

Throughout the weekend, strawberries were given out to visitors who stopped by. A small pamphlet contained a quote stating, “The strawberry teaches forgiveness and peace. The strawberry is shaped like a heart, and strawberries are known to our people as heart berries.”

Despite rain and muggy weather on Sunday, many curious visitors stopped by to ask questions about Métis culture, admire the kids’ artwork, purchase sashes or listen to Quenten Lundie as he played Métis fiddle music.

Lundie also brought bags of wild rice and some wild rice pudding he’d made himself. It was a hit!