The MNO’s Summer Youth Employment Program is slated to look a little different this year as participants will be working from home.

The Metis Nation of Ontario’s Summer Youth Program is back this year though as the world takes the necessary precautions against COVID-19, the program is a little different this year.

As the youth prepare to work from home this year MNO staff and supervisors in the Education and Training department have been hard at work to create a plan to help these students achieve the same goals and connections with their cultures. This all while being spread across the province.

While this has drastically changed the logistics of the program, Tammy Webb at the Education and Training branch says this has actually allowed for expansion and development of the initiative.

“Working remotely is the key to being able to roll out the program for 2020,” said Webb

“It has also afforded the MNO the ability to hire 30 Metis youth. In years past the students had to be formally located at office sites that could accommodate additional staff and we would usually only be able to hire 18 to 20 students.”

As the program shifts to fully remote this year the youth have been given tasks that reflect the new digital-focused landscape we find ourselves in now that we are all working from home.

Morgan Turcotte is one of the 30 participants in this year’s Summer Youth Program.

This year we have put the students together in teams spread across the Province and provided them with the technical equipment to connect via Zoom, to be creative and work on short video clips relative to Metis culture,” said Webb.

“Something new this year that we are calling ‘The Metis Minute.’ These minutes will be modelled after the Canadian Heritage but it will be Metis specific.”

Webb goes on to say that these videos will be developed with information that is available on the MNO website but in a format that is brief and to the point.

“This summer should be fun and exciting.”

Other videos the youth will be tasked in making include step-by-steps for beading, finger weaving and other traditional crafts.

As the program moves forward throughout the summer safety will be the top priority for the MNO and its staff which includes youth in the Summer Youth Program.

As of right now, all of our employees are working from home following recommendations from the Government of Ontario.

If this changes before the summer ends this will have no effect on the youth in the program as they will remain working from home regardless.

The MNO believes this is the best option to keep our youth safe.

Samantha Lavallee, seen here with her coworker ‘Michael’ is one of the 30 participants in this year’s Summer Youth Program.

While this is a much different way of doing things from past years the youth are still excited not only to work creatively with the MNO but also learn more about and become closer with their roots.

Janelle Masicotte is a returning youth to the program this year and she says she understands the need to change it up this year and she’s excited to see what’s in store.

“I believe that our SYP team will have a great summer since we will have the opportunity to get creative, have fun and jump out of our comfort zone with the work that we will be doing,” said Masicotte.

“I strongly believe that the MNO has been doing exceptional work for the virtual transition and even though this is a learning process for everyone, the staff is always ready to help each other which makes everything so much easier.”

The program has evolved even over the last few years as the focus has shifted from a historical focus to a more contemporary one.

Posted on May 26, 2020.