Metis youth participants meet virtually for a self-government simulation, co-hosted with the Gordon Foundation this February.
Metis youth participants meet virtually for a self-government simulation, co-hosted with the Gordon Foundation this February.

 

Unity Through Negotiation:
MNO Youth take part in Self-Government Simulation

As the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) advances on the road to self-government, it is imperative that all voices within the community are being heard—especially those of Métis youth, who will carry this important work forward on behalf of the generations yet to come.

A partnership between the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council (MNOYC) and the Gordon Foundation, provided a unique hands-on learning experience for Métis youth to learn about how self-government and treaties are negotiated.

Thirteen Métis youth signed on for “Finding Unity Through Negotiation” Self-Government Simulation in February 2021. They were joined by experienced facilitators and MNO leadership; including MNO President Margaret Froh, Director of Self-Government Brian Black, Regional Councilor Mitch Case, PCMNO Youth Representative Jordyn Playne, PCMNO Post-Secondary Representative Hannah Bazinet, and PCMNO Senator Rene Gravelle.

The Gordon Foundation has been hosting Treaty simulations with Indigenous youth since 2019; but this was the first simulation held with a Métis community. Traditionally held in person, the three-part simulation moved online to ensure the safety of participants during the pandemic.

“I’m really excited to be here today for this event,” said President Froh. “And I’m especially looking forward to conversations and to seeing all the amazing things that the youth participants will come up with as we talk about self-government and our intentions going into the future.”

The Finding Unity Through Negotiation simulation was broken up into three sessions, including an orientation. Participants were split into teams representing different parties (Métis government, federal government, etc.) and were tasked with negotiating and reaching agreement on specific topics. Throughout the process, youth were guided by experienced advisors familiar with the negotiations and implementation processes.

Motivations for participating in the simulation ranged, but youth agreed that informing themselves on self-government and bringing that knowledge back to their communities was a significant factor.

“[The simulation] really gives people at a community level, like myself, an opportunity to experience leadership and explore what it’s like at self-government negotiating tables,” shared Ishmael Van Der Rassel, North Bay Metis Council Youth Rep. “For students interested in law or policy, this is an opportunity to see the steps involved in self-government agreements, and to better understand the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement (MGRSA).”

The question of “what self-government means” underscored the conversations over the three-day event, and youth walked away feeling more comfortable and assured in their newfound understandings.

“I learned so much from this event that I’ve been able to share with my friends and family,” said youth participant Tayler Chown. “And I was really surprised by how easily we were all able to come together when negotiating our agreements. Everyone was very respectful of one another.”

Many youth stressed how valuable the experience had been, and how they plan to keep the conversations going. As the MNO looks to the future, providing opportunities for Métis youth, the next generation of Métis leaders, to gather and grapple with important issues is crucial. And if the Finding Unity Through Negotiation self-government simulation is any indication, it certainly seems the future of the MNO is in good hands.

Thanks and marsii to all those who participated in making this extraordinary event such a success.

Video coming soon!