This summer, ten hardy Métis youth from across the province converged on Awenda Provincial Park for a week-long canoeing and camping experience.
From July 6 to 12, 2023, these young adventurers embarked on an challenging journey, navigating the waters of Georgian Bay while soaking in the history and natural beauty of the landscape. The expedition, organized by the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) in partnership with Challenges Canada and Awenda park authorities, aimed to provide an opportunity for the youth to be immersed in their culture, build relationships, and develop leadership skills through outdoor experiences.
Led by experienced guides, the group paddled the calm mornings and sun-kissed afternoons, returning to base camp to sleep under the starlit canopy of the night sky. The group was visited by MNO President Margaret Froh who spoke about the importance of these outdoors experiences that she herself grew up engaged in.
“Seeing these young Métis individuals come together to connect with the land and waterways is a testament to the resilience and spirit of our community,” said Froh.
“This camp not only showcased their ability to navigate the waters but also their capacity to build bridges of friendship and understanding. Undoubtedly, this experience will shape their journeys ahead, instilling an appreciation for their culture, their history and the land of their ancestors.”
Elders and Senators joined the group for storytelling sessions around the campfire, sharing the importance of shared respect for the lands and waterways and the connection to the historic routes of their ancestors. The youths participated in workshops on traditional crafts, language, and dances, gaining a renewed sense of pride in their heritage.
Throughout the expedition, participants embraced teamwork and communication as they tackled open waters and navigated changing weather conditions. The physical demands of paddling and camping outdoors fostered a deeper understanding of resilience and self-reliance.
The canoeing expedition served as a reminder of the profound impact that outdoor experiences can have on fostering personal growth, cultural awareness, and a sense of community.
The canoeing expedition served as a reminder of the profound impact that initiatives like these have in raising awareness of the rich history and culture of Métis communities in Ontario as well as our shared respect and responsibility to the lands and waterways of Ontario.
The expedition is one part of advancing the many priorities that were put forth by citizens at the most recent MNO Assembly on “Revitalizing Our Stories, Histories, Alliances and Relationships”