Submitted by: Courtney Vaughan, MNO SYCP Facilitator

SYCP_Teddy Bear Picnic
The MNO Sault Ste. Marie SYCP staff at the Teddy Bear
Picnic in Sault Ste. Marie. (L-R) Courtney Vaughan,
Facilitator; Warren McFadden, Facilitator; Riley Smith,
Lead; Abby Denning, Facilitator; Sarah Bibeau, Lead; and,
Julia Simon, Facilitator. Click here to view a larger version.

For the second year in a row, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Summer Youth Cultural Program (SYCP) team in Sault Ste. Marie (SSM) attended the Teddy Bear Picnic hosted by the Timber Village Museum in Blind River.

The picnic, which began as an annual community event in 1987, took place on July 7, 2016 and featured a variety of games, crafts, contests, and activities for young children. The MNO SSM SYCP team—which includes Facilitators Abby Denning, Warren McFadden, Julia Simon, and Courtney Vaughan, and Leads Riley Smith and Sarah Bibeau—joined other community organizations to provide entertainment and cultural education to children in the Blind River area.

“The Teddy Bear Picnic has been a very fun event these past two summers for me,” said Facilitator Abby Denning. “There’s always a great turn out which brings in a lot of traffic for us. The young kids are always so fascinated with our games and their parents are often intrigued by our historical artifacts.”

The MNO SSM SYCP team loved sharing Métis culture and heritage with the children through historic games and activities such as ball and hoop, ball in cup, bone and sinew and finger weaving. However, the crowd favourite was by far the Métis traditional songs, as “music transcends language, age, and ability,” said Facilitator Courtney Vaughan.

Many parents, both Francophone and Anglophone, were thrilled by the strong Métis presence at children’s events such as the Teddy Bear Picnic, as it provides them with an opportunity to teach their children about their culture and heritage. They also see it as a chance to teach their children the history of the area they call home.

“The majority of the attendees [at the Teddy Bear Picnic] are French speakers which make it a little difficult to get our message across,” said Denning “but singing songs really helped us out as most of our songs are primarily French or a mix of both French and English.”

The MNO SSM SYCP team is always thrilled to partake in events in other locations with historically prominent Métis communities. “There are so many fascinating communities throughout Region 4, so it is always a pleasure to extend the MNO SYCP programming outside of Sault Ste. Marie into more rural areas,” said Vaughan.

Looking back on the Teddy Bear Picnic in particular, Riley Smith noted that “it was great to be in a diverse community that proudly exhibits its strong French history.

The MNO SYCP teams have been busy this summer! Click here to see what else they have been up to these past few weeks.

Published on: September 2, 2016