An Afternoon of Celebration

By Natalie Lloyd, Health Branch Supervisor

MNO signs agreement with Central East LHIN
Natalie Lloyd (seated on left) signs the Central East LHIN
Terms of Reference on behalf of the MNO. Signing with
Natalie is Deborah Hammons, CEO of the CE LHIN.
Standing on the left is Foster Loucks, Chair of the
CE LHIN who also signed the agreement with the MNO.
The other four people were signers of a separate
agreement with local First Nations.
On Sept 30, 2010, I had the pleasure of attending the signing ceremony for the Terms of Reference with the Central East Local Health Integration Network (CE LHIN) for the Métis, Inuit and Urban and Non-Status Indians. At the same event, the First Nations Terms of Reference was also signed by representatives of local First Nations communities. Representatives from the mainstream Health Care System also attended. The Alderville First Nation was the host for the day, and welcomed everyone into their beautiful community centre.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was well represented with approximately ten citizens attending including: Senators Reta Gordon, André Bosse, Olive Tiedema; and representatives from the Northumberland, Wapiti and Oshawa and Durham Métis Councils. All of the Métis in attendance proudly wore sashes for the occasion.

Senator André Bosse proudly carried in the Métis flag during the opening that also included an honour song and youth and adult traditional dancers. The youngest dancer was a jingle dress dancer who could not have been older than four years old, but who danced with intensity beyond her years. Representatives of the Alderville First Nation welcomed the participants and spoke of the importance of addressing the health issues through the CE LHIN. An Elder from the community provided a prayer, which was followed by a smudging. It cleaned the room to ensure the energy going into the signing was clear of any negativity, and also supported the CE LHIN moving forward positively.

MNO agreement with CE LHIN
(left to right seated) Natalie Lloyd, Senator Andre Bosse,
Senator Olive Tiedema (left to right standing) Terry Bloom,
Brenda Bosse, Senator Reta Gordon, Cecile Wager,
Claire Kearns and Gregory Bloom
The Chiefs from Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations shared powerful words on the significance of this day, and then I had the honour of speaking on behalf of the MNO. I reflected on my drive to Alderville First Nation with Senator Gordon and how we both enjoyed the beautiful colors of the changing leaves in the slow steady rain. We could not help but think the Creator was washing away any negativity of past history between all gathered to ensure the CE LHIN benefits all Aboriginal people. I then spoke about how the signing in 2010 is special for Métis people in Ontario and across Canada because both the Provincial and Federal Governments declared 2010 the Year of the Métis Nation. For too long the contributions of Métis people to both the Aboriginal community and to Canada have been down played, ignored or denied, but with the signing of the CE LHIN Terms of Reference, we can say the Métis voice has been heard and today we can say YOU COUNT!

Several local Métis citizens were instrumental in opening the doors of the CE LHIN to the MNO. These include Art Henry, his mother Rose and his sister Kelly Semjan. Marsee (thank you) should also be extended to Senator Andre Bosse, Brenda Bosse and Dawn Boston for working with the LHIN to develop the Terms of Reference. Jai Mills, the Aboriginal Liaison Representative, with the CE LHIN also played a critical role by asking questions, listening and understanding the concerns and reality of the groups involved in CE LHIN.

The importance of tying the Métis relationship with the CE LHIN was signified with the presentation of a sash to Foster Loucks, the CE LHIN Chair by Senators Bosse and Gordon. They shared that the sash was not just a garment, but also a tool to help Métis Voyageurs carry large loads. We asked the Chair to use it to help carry the large load necessary to move forward on issues of Métis and Aboriginal health.

Following presentations by James Meloche, the Senior Director of Planning, Integration and Community Engagement, and Deborah Hammons, CEO of LHIN, the two Terms of Reference were signed with drummers providing a suitable accompaniment. Following the ceremony, Chair Foster presented everyone with a gift of a tobacco to signify the sealing of the agreement. A copy of the Terms of Reference can be found at here.

To say the least, the attention to detail and the respect shown throughout the day was truly beautiful. The MNO looks forward to building on the relationships built through the CE LHIN and future meetings are already being planned. I would encourage all Métis citizens to learn about the LHIN in their areas and check out the LHIN online. I will provide updates on future LHIN engagement with the Métis as they occur.