From snowshoeing and beading, to learning about post-secondary scholarships and resume writing, the 2018 Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Infinite Reach March Break Camp invited students to celebrate Métis way of life and learn about post-secondary opportunities.

The camp was held March 11 to 15, at the Canadian Ecology Centre in Mattawa and brought together Métis students from Grades 10, 11 and 12 with Infinite Reach Facilitators, who are upper year post-secondary students who assist new students adjust to university and college life.

The camp provides an opportunity for youth from across Ontario to meet, share new experiences and connect to Métis traditions.

“A lot of Metis youth feel disconnected from their culture and it’s very helpful for them to have a place to come to learn these things,” said Kaitlyn Anderson-Mitchell, a Grade 11 student from London, Ont., who is also part of the MNO Thames Bluewater Métis Council. “Traditionally they would just be taught by their parents and grandparents — not everyone gets that opportunity. So it’s great for youth to be able to come here and learn these things.”

The four-day retreat included workshops on the job market, the value of post-secondary education, and the MNO Infinite Reach program.

Finger weaving, beading, making leather moccasins, jigging, playing historical games and taking in presentations from elders about trapping and maple sugar tapping were among the cultural activities offered, according to Tomas Lucas, one of the Infinite Reach Facilitators.

Campers also snowshoed several kilometres around the Canadian Ecology Centre and enjoyed cooking over a campfire.

Grade 12 student Jacxsen Cress, from Sudbury, learned a lot about Métis culture.

“This camp has taught me a lot about things my ancestors would have done that I had no idea about,” he said.

“It’s really just an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”

MNO President Margaret Froh, who had an opportunity to attend part of the camp, hopes the experience will inspire the Métis youth who attended.“This camp is a celebration of who we are as Métis people, to share and experience our culture and traditions here in what is an absolutely beautiful area,” she said.

PCMNO Senator Ray Bergie feels the camp plays an really important role for youth. “It introduces them to new friends and more importantly brings them back to the land and their roots – this is so important as the youth are our future.”

Posted: April 17, 2018