TPS smallOn Feb. 20, Senator Constance Simmonds (left) of the
Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto York Region Métis
Council (TYRMC) and John Budarick, councillor with MNO
TYRMC, present Toronto Paramedic Services Chief Gord
McEachen (right) with a Métis sash in appreciation of his
attendance at last year’s Louis Riel Day. Click here to view
a larger version of this picutre.

On Feb. 20, representatives of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) presented Toronto Paramedic Services Chief Gord McEachen with a Métis sash.

The gift, woven in the colours of the local council, was presented by MNO TYRMC Senator Constance Simmonds, in appreciation of the Chief’s attendance at last year’s Louis Riel Day. The occasion also included a prayer and smudging led by the Senator.

John Budarick, a councillor with the MNO TYRMC and a member of the Toronto Paramedic Service was pleased when the chief arrived at the flag raising. For him, it was a welcome step toward reconciliation.

“Much to my surprise, Chief Gord McEachen attended the event to officially give his nod towards the Métis Nation of Ontario,” he said.

“This was a grand gesture for me personally, as I had finally felt acceptance and compassion from my employer— a place where I have countless important personal relationships, where I pour my heart and soul into my career, where I can be a positive influence on society.

“As a community, this was also a large step forward, as it was a nod saying, we accept you, we hear your one voice and we acknowledge the Métis.”

The Chief’s attendance at Louis Riel Day was especially poignant because just a few years before Budarick asked to attend the annual event in his uniform, but his request was denied.

In fact, Budarick recalls being somewhat offended by the response he received, but he didn’t let that keep him from attending. Instead, he went in plainclothes and attended on his own time.

On the advice of a friend, Budarick decided not to attack the issue head-on, but approach it with compassion and be a diligent advocate for involvement in the Métis community, hoping that it would eventually change the views of the paramedic service.

“I had to resist attacking and lashing out, as I found the issue preposterous.”

Over the next several years, working with MNO TYRMC, and even starting his own business that emphasizes Indigenous employment and training, Budarick made “progress in developing connections and credibility, and the service began to open its doors.”

That progress was highlighted when the Chief chose to attend the event, and Budarick was also permitted to wear his dress uniform for the 2017 ceremony.

Posted: May 22, 2018