Every year since 2006, the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen who has made ongoing contributions to the Métis Nation and his or her own community.

Peter Coture was the 2018 recipient of the Suzanne
Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award. This year the
award was presented by Suzanne’s daughter Michele-Elise
Burnett (left) and MNO President Margaret Froh (right).
Click here to view a larger version of this picture.

‘I’m more of a doer’
Peter Coture receives volunteer award

At the AGA, Peter Coture, who has been called the best fish cleaner of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), was recognized for his volunteer efforts.

Every year since 2006, the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award has been presented to a MNO citizen who has made ongoing contributions to the Métis Nation and his or her own community.

“One of the realities of the Métis Nation of Ontario is we are driven by our people and all of that volunteer time that all of you put in to ensuring that we are doing the things that we need to do for our families and our communities,” said MNO President Margaret Froh.

When Peter’s name was announced, the audience gave the MNO Great Lakes Métis Council President a standing ovation.

“I’m not much of a speaker or anything, I’m more of a doer, but I want to thank everyone for this and it’s well appreciated,” he said.

For the first time, the award was presented by Suzanne’s daughter Michele-Elise Burnett, who spoke powerfully about her mother’s legacy and the need to recognize those in the Métis community that go above and beyond each day to make their communities better and stronger.

“Let us always remember where we came from, honour those who trail blazed relentlessly and at times with blood, sweat and tears to create the MNO dream. Let us be grateful to those that continue in their footsteps by giving generously by being strong, unwavering advocates of the Métis Nation and giving selflessly and being the backbones of success of today’s MNO,” Burnett said.

Peter was nominated by several individuals in the MNO Great Lakes Métis Council region for his more than 20 years of work with the council and for his willingness to help everyone in the community.

“He is a vital figure in the Owen Sound grassroots Métis movement. With his selfless commitment of time and energy, he helps to preserve our Métis heritage by teaching traditional hunting and forest management techniques and preserving our history,” Burnett said.

The nomination noted Peter’s crucial participation in the erection of a Mudtown plaque recognizing Métis history in Owen Sound.

“But perhaps the most important thing you need to know about Peter is that he puts his words into practice.” She added, “And no Métis freezer in the area lacks for fresh fish for dinner.”

On his nomination papers, Helen Marietta praised Peter for his compassion and respect.

“He’s always out seeing our elders if they need anything and if he can help them in any way. He keeps everyone well informed on what is happening; he is well trusted by council and our citizens,” she wrote on the form. “He always puts our children and our way of life first and foremost and he has worked very hard to earn and keep our respect.”

“He volunteers more time than most people work,” added MNO Great Lakes Métis Councilor Murray Hillyer.

As President, Peter plays an active role in bringing the concerns of local MNO citizens forward during consultations with local industry.

“Pete always gives his time to the greater cause and he has all Métis peoples’ rights and ideas in mind when in meetings and in public,” said James Coture, Peter’s son, who is also part of the community council. “He has tried to move forward all of our people in every way possible.”


The individuals nominated must exemplify the kind of volunteer contribution demonstrated by Suzanne Rochon-Burnett. They will have given generously of their time and effort, are strong advocates of the Métis Nation and their record of selfless commitment has been firmly established. They are seen as caring, giving individuals who others look up to and admire. The candidates will have provided an extended period of service as a volunteer.

About Dr. Suzanne Rochon-Burnett

Dr. Suzanne Rochon-Burnett was a founding member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Named to the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, Suzanne was a member of the Canada Council and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Brock University where she served on the Board of Trustees. She was a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and the first woman inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. Suzanne passed away in 2006. To honour her memory and recognize her outstanding service as a volunteer, in 2006, the Métis Nation of Ontario named Suzanne as the first recipient of the inaugural Volunteer of the Year Award, which now bears her name.

Past Recipients

Past winners of the award include:

Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, Richard Sarrazin, Senator Reta Gordon, Louise Goulding, Pauline Richardson, Senator Gordon Calder, Senator Marlene Greenwood, Senator Olivine Tiedema, Senator Brenda Powley, Senator Bob McKay. Ernie Gatien, Joseph Paquette, Greg Garratt and Peter Coture.

Updated on: June 19, 2019