Submitted by: A.G. Gauthier
This Powley Day, September 19, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Ottawa Region Métis Council and members of the Métis community gathered to acknowledge Steve Powley, a leader among Ontario’s Métis people.
Powley Day commemorates Steve Powley, a Métis hunter from the Sault St. Marie area, who in 1993 was charged for hunting without a license. The charges lead to court battles for the right to harvest and eventually saw its way through to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was decided that Métis people indeed have the right to harvest foods in a means that is traditional to that of their ancestors. This decision is a significant milestone for Métis in Ontario and Canada.
Held at the University of Ottawa, the evening’s celebrations included a heartfelt lecture from the MNO founding president and recent recipient of the Order of Canada Tony Belcourt. Belcourt spoke to those gathered about the struggles encountered during the Powley case such as the lack of understanding of Métis culture and denial of the existence of Métis people in Ontario, as well as the continued efforts that are needed to ensure that Métis harvesting rights are upheld in Ontario.
Among other guests were MNO Executive Senator Reta Gordon and Senator Lois McCallum.
Continuing on in the celebration was a light buffet style feast as well as a demonstration and lesson of Métis jigging by University of Ottawa graduate student Brad La Fortune.
The event was a great success and enjoyed by all.