Submitted by: Todd Ross, MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council Chair

Paddle the Done1
(L-R) MNO President Margaret Froh, MNO TYRMC
Senator Constance Simmonds, Don Valley West MP
Rob Oliphant, Premier Kathleen Wynne, King–Vaughan MP
Deb Schulte, Toronto–Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin, MNO
TYRMC Chair Todd Ross, MNO TRYMC President Tera
Beaulieu, and Beaches–East York MPP Arthur Potts.
Click here to view a larger version.

On May 1, 2016, a small group of “voyageurs” from the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) and community had the honour of leading a caravan of roughly 300 canoes down the historic Don River for the Manulife Paddle the Don event. Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne and soon-to-be-MNO President Margaret Froh braved the rapids to offer a helping hand on this great voyage.

As part of a new partnership with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), the MNO TYRMC was invited to the event and was supplied with five canoes to lead the paddle. MNO TYRMC President Tera Beaulieu and MNO TYRMC Senator Constance Simmonds were present in full Métis regalia.

After the opening prayer by Senator Simmonds, Premier Wynne spoke on behalf of the Province of Ontario and then assisted with the launch of the MNO TYRMC canoes.

Paddling with the MNO TYRMC were: MNO TYRMC Chair Todd Ross, Kirk MacKenzie, Jim and Rosalyn Morrison, Jonathan Charland, Shaun Cameron; Lawrence and Madlyn Doucette, President Froh and Rachel Osborne.

Paddle the Don is a 10.5 km canoe trip that launches at Eglinton and Leslie and finishes at Lake Ontario. Every year the
Paddle the Donel 2MNO citizen Kirk MacKenzie (left) and MNO TYRMC Chair
Todd Ross (middle) kick off Manulife Paddle the Don with
the assistance of Premier Wynne (right). Click here to view
a larger version.
TRCA opens the G. Ross Lord Dam to raise the water levels, which allows hundreds of paddlers to make their way through the river valley, under the bridges and along the Don Valley Parkway through a series of rapids—ranging from class I to III (class I being the easiest and class VI being the hardest). The journey provides a unique view of the city and reminds us of the importance that rivers have played in southern Ontario and in Métis history.

Over 600 people took part in this year’s paddle, including Toronto–Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin, Don Valley West MP Rob Oliphant, King–Vaughan MP Deb Schulte, and Beaches–East York MPP Arthur Potts.

Planning has already begun for next year’s event. The MNO TYRMC are excited to announce that they have been invited to return and are looking forward to expanding their participation.

Published on: May 18, 2016