NB Summer CelebrationCommunity members worked on the community mural
painting displayed above during the North Bay Summer
Métis Family Celebration. Attendees also participated in
bannock making, archery and a nutrition workshop. Click
here to view a larger version of this picture.

Submitted by Amanda Farrell, MNO Métis Family Wellbeing Program Coordinator

On July 24, North Bay office Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Healing and Wellness staff with the support of MNO North Bay Métis Council hosted a Summer Métis Family Celebration.

Families were invited to participate in archery, bannock making, a nutrition workshop and community art project.

The idea for the event was to shed light on how various art forms play a role in creating and promoting healthy relationships, families and communities.

For example, archery is a form of wilderness art traditionally used for harvesting, culinary arts play a role in nutrition and the community art united participants through paint and creativity.

Indigenous Community Art Facilitator Christine Charette led the community art project and guided participants through the artistic journey.

“Making art in the Métis community allows for the participation of everyone. It makes the creative process accessible and this makes everyone happy,” Charette said.

She added the satisfaction that comes from making something is a feeling everyone can enjoy.

“When we make this wonderful thing together, our community not only grows closer, and richer in the process. I always hope that the take away is that the art process can continue at home alone, or with the family, so that the Métis culture and traditions find a place to flourish and grow in creativity. Creativity is healing, and our path here is endless. Together Métis art keeps us strong.”

Historically, Métis people used art to represent themselves, their history and culture. Examples of this include: birch bark canoes, floral beadwork, leather crafting, snow shoes, finger weaving, embroidery and so much more. Creating each piece provided an opportunity for personal growth and community connection.

Now, life is full of technology, eating at restaurants, shopping or driving, but connections can be re-established by getting back to nature and creating and reflecting on art.

As Louis Riel said: “Les miens dormiront pendant 100 ans, et quand ils se réveilleront, ce seront les artistes qui leur rendont leur esprit.” / “My people will sleep for 100 years but when they awake, it will be the artists who will give them their spirit back.”

Art can be a special recipe or the way you present a homemade meal before serving it to your family. It’s the layout of your garden and your audience is the people you share the harvest with. You can gather and celebrate with music and make connections through song and dance.

The creation of art also promotes healing and wellness. As a nation, we can heal together by establishing a connection through community. Some examples include skipping out on fast food and instead growing a garden, harvesting it, using your grandmother’s recipe and sharing the meal with others or choosing the canoe trip or rustic cottage over the all-inclusive cruise ship.

These are just some ways to promote wellness, create an emotional connection with family and friends and enhance physical health through outdoor activity and nutrition.

Our spirit is nurtured through our ancestral connection and culture. Let us all feel inspired to rediscover Métis culture, empower one another and heal our communities.

Posted: Sept. 12, 2018