women-groupA few of the delegates at the MNO Strong Women Forum “This event has been a long time coming,” commented Sharon McBride, the Spokesperson for the Women’s Secretariat of the Métis Nation of Ontario (WSMNO), at the opening of the first WSMNO Strong Women Forum in Toronto on March 25-27

The Forum was hosted by the MNO Women’s Secretariat with the objectives of empowering and inspiring MNO women through leadership training, team building and honouring the many strong Métis women heroes women-group2Dr. Kim Anderson facilitating a session during the Strong Women
that have made the Nation strong. Participating were 40 MNO women, including a number of Métis youth, representing all nine regions within the MNO. Participants included teenagers, businesswomen, community leaders, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers.

The first day started off with a welcome and message of support from MNO President Gary Lipinski. This was followed by an inspiring address from Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, holder of the Nexen Chair in Aboriginal Leadership at the Banff Centre in Alberta, who has dedicated herself to women-facilitatorsSharon McBride Spokesperson for the MNO Women’s Secretariat
and Dr. Anderson, the facililator for the Strong Women Forum
numerous causes including building bridges between people from.diverse backgrounds, public education and youth engagement.

Participants worked hard through a jam-packed agenda that was facilitated by Dr. Kim Anderson, a Métis researcher, writer and educator who has published numerous scholarly articles and books on Aboriginal women’s health, leadership and motherhood. A prominent theme that emerged throughout the activities was the strength and leadership demonstrated by “ordinary” Métis women including mothers, grandmothers and friends. Their contribution to this generation of Métis leaders is far from ordinary; in fact, it is nothing short of extraordinary.

MNO Chair France Picotte perhaps best expressed the feeling of many in attendance when she said: “When you walk in here, you can feel the energy. You can’t explain it, but you can feel it!”