Submitted by: Courtney Vaughan, SYCP Facilitator, and Mitch Case,MNO Youth Council President and PCMNO Youth Representative

SSM youth meet Lt. Gov. Dowdeswell
Métis youth present Her Honour, Elizabeth
Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, with
a frame enclosed with reproductions of important
petitions, a map, photographs and drawings of the
historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis community. (L-R)
Back row: Warren McFadden, SYCP Facilitator;
Dustin Hoogsteen; Métis Youth Council
Representative; Brendan Case, Riley Smith,
SYCP Lead; and, Julia Simon, SYCP Facilitator.

Front row: Taylor McNally, MNO North Channel
Métis Council Youth Representative; Abby
Denning, SYCP Facilitator; Lieutenant Governor
Dowdeswell; Courtney Vaughan, SYCP Facilitator;
Mitch Case,MNO Youth Council President and
PCMNO Youth Representative; and, Sault Ste.
Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano. Click here to
view a larger version.

On July 27, 2016, Métis youth from Sault Ste. Marie (the Sault) had the opportunity to meet with Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The meeting was arranged as part of the tour of northern communities that Her Honour has been undertaking. The welcoming ceremony took place on the steps of City Hall, where Her Honour was greeted by Christian Provenzano, Mayor of the Sault, members of the 49th Field Regiment, the Sea Cadets, Métis youth, and a few members from the Sault City Council.

After a private meeting with Mayor Provenzano, Her Honour hosted a roundtable discussion about possibilities and economic development in the Sault. Included in the roundtable, was Mayor Provenzano, other civic officials and Mitch Case, Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Youth Council President and the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Youth Representative. Case spoke about the economic possibilities that could arise from a cultural shift towards valuing the histories of Indigenous people, especially the untapped potential of embracing the history of the Sault Métis community. Case also spoke about how economic development activities in the area must respect the Constitution Act, 1982 Section 35 rights of the community.

After the roundtable and a fantastic lunch, Her Honour held a private meeting with Métis youth and Mayor Provenzano. In attendance was: Taylor McNally, MNO North Channel Métis Council Youth Representative; Dustin Hoogsteen, Métis Youth Council Representative; Brendan Case; and Summer Youth Cultural Program (SYCP) staff—Warren McFadden, Facilitator; Courtney Vaughan, Facilitator; Riley Smith, Lead; Julia Simon, Facilitator; and, Abby Denning, Facilitator. The youth spoke about issues affecting the Métis youth community, including: lack of jobs; educational barriers; barriers and challenges faced by Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, and Queer (LGTBQ) Métis youth; access to land; decolonization; and, arts and culture.

Her Honour expressed a keen interest in the struggles youth and the Métis peoples are facing in the Sault. More particularly, she sought to learn what aspects of the region contribute to the retention of the younger generation.

At the end of the meeting, the youth presented Her Honour with a gift on behalf of the Métis community. The gift consisted of a large framed copy of two reproductions of important petitions; the first being a petition from the Métis community to the Governor General asking for respect of their land rights following the Robinson Huron Treaty of 1850. The second petition was a reproduction of the local First Nation Chiefs asking the Crown to respect Métis people as equal to First Nations. Also included was a reproduction of a map of the historic Sault Métis community, as well as several photographs, drawings and paintings of the Sault Métis community.

Her Honour was very pleased with the intention and energy devoted to this gift. The youth hope this gift will act as a constant reminder of the promises made in 1850 by the Crown Representative. The youth reminded Her Honour that the Crown has an obligation to live up to its promises and that Métis rights and interests cannot be ignored. The youth also stressed that the Crown has outstanding promises and that we as a Métis Nation have never forgotten.

In her mandate as the Lieutenant Governor, Her Honour has committed to being the province’s “storyteller in chief”. It is the hope of the Sault youth that the story of our people will be one of those told by the Lieutenant Governor in her term.

Published on: August 23, 2016