Submitted by: Tina Nichol, MNO Timiskaming Métis Council Secretary/Treasurer

Village Noel
Village Noël participants inside the teepee at the festival.
(L-R) Tina Nichol, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Timiskaming Métis
Council (TMC) Secretary/Treasurer, Marilyn Chevrier-Wills, member
of the Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group, Rejeanne
Massie, Coordinator/Director of
Village Noël, and Melissa Gill, Healthy
Lifestyle Educator and Diabetes Prevention Coordinator for the
Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group.

From November 27 to 30, 2014, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Timiskaming Métis Community Council (TMCC) partnered with the Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group to promote awareness of Aboriginal cultures during the first Annual Village Noël in the heart of New Liskeard. Village Noël was organized by the Francophone community to promote local artists by showcasing their beautiful talents. The festival included kiosks featuring artisans, craftspeople and food vendors as well as carolers, street performers and musicians. The event also promoted the history of Timiskaming including the Old Mission trading post, life on the shores of Lake Timiskaming and prominent residents that have helped make Timiskaming the community it is today.

Aboriginal people from the Timiskaming First Nations, members of the Timiskaming Native Women’s Support Group and Métis from the MNO TMCC, worked together to erect a teepee. For four days they kept the sacred fire burning while the women of these communities drummed throughout the event.

Participants were invited into the teepee to pray for themselves or as a group by receiving a handful of cedar and tobacco medicines and then putting their offering into the sacred fire. Many different schools visited the teepee. Marilyn Chevrier-Wills of the Timiskaming Native Women’s Group, brought ‘shakers’ for the children so that they could participate in the drumming circle.

Tina Nichol, TMCC Secretary/Treasurer, made homemade bannock and offered cedar tea to women and visitors. “Taashkinikay kiiyanaan kaayaash Ooshchi, share our traditons; that is what it is all about when approaching one another in our communities,” explained Tina Nichol. “We have always shared our stories, but sharing our traditions is also very important as it allows us to create ties with one another and increase awareness.”