Métis women came from across the province to meet in Blue Mountain, Ontario in the largest gathering of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) women in history in April 2019.
Nestled in the scenic hills of Collingwood’s Blue Mountain Village, more than fifty Métis sisters met for three days of seminars, creative workshops, relationship-building, and celebrations of Métis culture.
Attending the MNO’s Métis Women Leadership Gathering were mothers, sisters, daughters and friends representing both Métis women’s interests and the MNO’s community councils and regions. Also in attendance were MNO Provisional Council members President Margaret Froh, Vice Chair and Women’s Spokesperson, Sharon Cadeau, and four Métis women veterans. The women leaders attending the gathering were there to learn, but also to bond with their MNO sisters and share their stories and truths.
“We are so fortunate to be in the presence of so many strong Métis women, including our Métis veterans and elders,” describes Sharon Cadeau. “These women are a part of our history, and these conversations are important. We have to know where we were in order to know where we are going.”
Acknowledging the passionate work of those involved, MNO President Margaret Froh emphasized the value of such meetings. “We really do care about our community, our history, our culture, our story as Métis people. We show time and time again that we’re willing to show up, we’re willing to put the time in and come out to organize these events within our community and to share the knowledge that each of you carry,” said President Froh.
The knowledge shared proved as diverse as the women attending the event. Artists, creators, musicians, dancers and story-tellers ensured an agenda that was entertaining and informative, ranging from beading to drumming, and from inward self-exploration to outward expressions of solidarity. Over the three days, women deliberated over the best ways to support Métis women, address conflict in communities and challenge acts of lateral violence.
Conversations continued long after the workshops had ended, and participants often met late into the night, sharing stories and simply enjoying the comradery and excitement that comes with meeting old and new friends. But, despite the late nights, everyone was up early each morning, eager for another day of dialogue and creative pursuits.
“All the time when we’re working as women we’re always being reflective. We’re always on our healing journey, we’re always doing work that can be sometimes challenging,” expressed organizer Joan Riggs. “Coming to these events and sharing our gifts with one another bring us both balance and valuable teachings.”
Our Métis women are proud leaders and warriors, but are also kind and giving. Many gifts were shared throughout the weekend. These gifts ranged from art, ornaments to more metaphorical gifts, like the sharing of knowledge and talents, which were in ample supply.
The Métis women gathered in Collingwood used the time to focus, plan, reflect, and check in with one another all while appreciating the beauty of Blue Mountain and the surrounding landscapes.
As the MNO moves forward towards its goal of self-government and self-determination, meetings such as these prove powerful forums, strengthening the Métis Nation of Ontario by ensuring the voices of all its sisters and citizens are being heard.