By Dr. Chris Paci, MNO Manager of Education

MNO President Gary Lipinski providing opening address at the Circle of Light
Conference in Toronto

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) worked with the Ontario Ministry of Education and the federal Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to plan the third Circle of Light Conference, November 13-16, 2011, in Toronto. The Circle of Light is important because it brings together a thousand delegates that include educators, school board members, government officials and students to discuss and share Aboriginal education best practices. The MNO played a prominent leadership role in organizing this event and MNO presenters enjoyed a high profile during the conference.

Opening prayer was led by MNO Senator Dr. Alis Kennedy and MNO President Gary Lipinski provided the opening address. In his remarks, President Lipinski highlighted the successful partnerships the MNO has been building with School Boards and with the Ministry of Education and how this work is advancing educational opportunities for Métis youth. MNO Senator Reta Gordon opened the second day of the conference in a very good way by reminding delegates of the importance of commemorating Louis Riel Day.

The MNO hosted three workshops run by MNO Director of Education and Training, Jennifer St. Germain and Postsecondary Education Analyst Benny Michaud; Education Officer Chris McLeod; and Manager of New Projects, Scott Carpenter. In addition Administrative Coordinator, Guylaine Morin-Cleroux staffed an information table and Senator Gordon aided by Métis youth Mitch Case, also presented on the Elder and Senators panel. The session was facilitated by MNO Manager of Education and Training Dr. Chris Paci. Other Métis presenters included noted canoe builder Marcel Labelle and Jessica Contant and Jennifer Henry participated in a youth engagement panel.

The MNO has seen growing recognition and acceptance in Métis workshops for teachers at the Circle of Light. Participation of community members and staff are contributing to improved partnerships with School Boards across Ontario. The growing interest in Métis education across Ontario will be part of the on-going improvements in our Métis way of life.