wts eventMétis youth of the Weaving the Sash project.Submitted by Elise St. Germain, MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator

On Sunday, October 18, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) Youth Committee hosted a finger weaving and sash teachings workshop in partnership with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. This was the first event of the Weaving the Sash project, an MNO TYRMC Youth Committee led project funded by the Laidlaw Foundation.

The morning started with youth participants socializing and meeting one another over breakfast. After introductions, participants and facilitators were offered tobacco and their own Louis Riel Coventry sash. The Youth Committee shared with the participants the significance of the title of the project, Weaving the Sash, and how the sash represents a weaving together of knowledge, relationships and culture for the Youth Committee and project.

MNO TYRMC Women’s Representative and Youth Committee member Lindsay DuPré and MNO TYRMC Senator Constance Simmonds then facilitated a sharing circle on Métis identity. The youth discussed what it meant to them to be an urban Métis youth; how they often feel a lack of community in an urban context but also that their identities depend on these relationships.

After a traditional lunch, Knowledge Keeper Louise Vien offered teachings on the Métis sash and provided instruction in finger weaving. Youth learned about the history and significance of the sash, the different cultures that share the sash and about the different styles of weaving. With Vien’s guidance, participants then had the chance to practice the basics of finger weaving.

While participants chatted, weaved and untangled their Métis-sash bookmarks that they were creating, Vien and her family helped the Youth Committee in starting the sash that will represent the Weaving the Sash project. Each member of the Youth Committee chose a colour to symbolize one of the four seasons (red for fall, blue for winter, green for spring, yellow for summer, and white for Mother Nature) to incorporate into the sash. The goal is to have all youth who participate in the upcoming Weaving the Sash events contribute to the project sash by weaving a few of its strands. By the end of the project, there will be one completed, unique, Toronto and York Region Métis youth sash.

At the end of the day, Vien offered these words on the importance of passing traditions down to Métis youth: “Traditions are what give identity to a people. […] When the youth are asked to be part of their communities, it’s because we believe in them, because the ancestors had a dream for them.”

For more information on the project and to find out how to get involved, including attending events, please contact tyrmc.youth@gmail.com. For regular updates about the project, please visit the MNO TYRMC at http://www.torontoyorkmetis.com/ and also check out their Facebook and Twitter (@TOYorkMetis) accounts for regular updates.

Published on: November 17, 2015