Mitch Case at his graduation at Algoma University. (Photo:
Shari Smale)PCMNO Youth Representative Mitch Case recently completed his degree program at Algoma University and graduated with an Honours Bachelors degree in History and a certificate in Indigenous Studies. When reflecting on why he chose his course of study Mitch says, “Someone needs to tell our story, we need to tell our story, and tell the truth about our people.”
Mitch recently completed his Honours thesis in History which focused on the interconnections within Great Lakes Métis communities. Mitch’s idea was to bust the myth of the “dot on a map,” the idea that Métis communities are disconnected from each other and not part of a whole. Based on primary source research that involved the records of Métis families from communities all around the Great Lakes, the research concluded that the Métis communities in the Ontario part of the Homeland are not disconnected from each other and are part of a web of families, economies and stories.
Algoma University, which is located in Sault Ste. Marie, is situated where the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School had been built. In keeping with the legacy of the site, Algoma University is a covenant partner with Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig, an Indigenous-run post-secondary institution. The institution bases its curriculum on the culture, history and teaching methodologies of the traditional Indigenous ways of life.
At convocation on June 13, Mitch was asked to give the “Expression of Thanks” on behalf of the graduating class. Mitch spoke about his connection to Algoma and Shingwauk, based on his own experiences and the fact that he is an intergenerational survivor of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, being a descendant of a survivor of the school. During convocation, Mitch wore his sash pin and from his cap hung an eagle feather. The feather was gifted to him by a Métis youth in the summer of 2014 for his service to the Métis Nation and the youth.
Mitch has accepted an offer of employment at Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig to work as Cultural Coordinator and Teaching Assistant. He will be working with Shingwauk faculty member Grand Chief Bawdwaywidun (Eddie Benton-Banai). Bawdwaywidun is the Chief of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. He is a pioneer in culture-based education and a huge supporter of Métis youth. “You are my brothers, my sisters, my family,” the Chief frequently says.
Mitch encourages all Métis youth to pursue their goals and their passions and to strive for academic excellence. “Métis youth are rising stars,” he says.
“The Métis Nation has gone through a lot of dark times. The sun is rising on the Métis Nation once again. In the night sky, the darkness is softened by the light of the stars. For the Métis Nation, our elders have been those stars in the night, the youth are the sunrise emerging from the darkness.”