By: Tracey Dale, MNO Community Wellness Coordinator and Tammy Hoover, MNO Healthy Babies Healthy Children Coordinator at the Bancroft office

Metis Fiddler QuartetMembers of the Métis Fiddler Quartet, (left to right) siblings Nicholas, Alyssa, Danton and Conlin

The Northern Lights Pavilion in Haliburton was the place to be on April 10 as the Métis Fiddler Quartet performed to an audience of almost 200 eager listeners.

The quartet was invited by J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School principal Elaine Fournier to be part of the school’s Celebration of Métis, First Nations and Inuit Culture event. Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) staff Tracey Dale and Tammy Hoover helped organize the event.

The quartet, made up of siblings, Alyssa, Conlin, Nicholas and Danton Delbaere-Sawhuck, has performed in large venues including 2010 Vancouver Olympics, National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

To kick off the school’s celebration event the Métis Fiddler Quartet performed a free interactive concert for a community family music night.

The crowd grew in numbers as the Quartet completed their final sound check before opening the doors to community members and MNO citizens from near and far.

Each member of the Métis Fiddler Quartet proudly wore their Métis sash as they entertained the crowd. It was hard for the audience to hold back as they clapped their hands and stomped their feet to this energetic fiddling group. Some audience members stood up in front of their seats and started jigging, at which point the quartet opened the stage level floor for anyone to join in.

The quartet continued to engage the crowd by inviting audience members to join them on stage. They provided a lesson on playing the wooden spoons and asked the selected audience members to play along. The audience was able to keep the beat using both hands and legs to create the same rhythm as a pair of spoons.

After the first set of fiddle music, the quartet siblings took a short break and invited audience members to purchase their album the North West Voyage, which was named Best Traditional Album at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards. They also invited the audience to purchase quartet sibling Alyssa’s solo album while signing autographs.

Before finishing the great evening of fiddle music, the quartet played and sang Happy Birthday to eight year old Tallon Hoover as he proudly stood by the stage looking up to the talented quartet. They encouraged the entire audience to join them in singing and presented Tallon with his very own set of wooden spoons.

The next day, the Métis Fiddler Quarter opened for J.D. Hodgson Elementary School’s second Celebration of Métis, First Nations and Inuit Culture.

Just as brilliant as the evening before, the Métis Fiddler Quartet entertained 300 students in their school gymnasium to kick start their day of participating in Aboriginal arts and learning about the Métis culture.

Pouches made by students during one of the Aboriginal art workshops.

After the performance the students engaged in one of ten all-day workshops which focused on Aboriginal arts. The workshops included: visual arts, drumming, whistle making, thunder drums, canvas dot painting, legends and turtle canvas painting, basket weaving, token stone with pouch and film making.

Students were able to pick a workshop that best suited their creative side and at the end of the day they displayed their art for everyone to admire. In the final closing the students that were involved in a performance based arts project were able to present their creations by performing as a group.

After six months of organizational gatherings with Elaine Fournier Principal of J.D. Hodgson Elementary School and Tammy Hoover and Tracey Dale, MNO staff from the Bancroft office, the event was a huge success in giving students a cultural experience like no other.

Partnering at the event was Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society staff Ashley Nieman and Ben Wadsworth, Ontario Early Years Centre staff Robin Simpson, MNO staff Rose Boyle and community members including Lyn and Bill Pawlowsky, Laurie Calder and Ada Tinney. A special thanks to Keesic Douglas, a professor at the Ontario College of Art (OCAD), who traveled from Toronto to teach filmmaking to the students.