Weaving the Sash winterParticipants of the second Weaving the Sash event in Toronto.

Submitted by Elise St. Germain, MNO TYRMC Youth Committee Member

On Saturday, February 6, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) Youth Committee hosted a Métis arts and music workshop at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education in partnership with the Indigenous Education Network. This exciting and full day was part of the MNO TYRMC Youth Committee’s Weaving the Sash: Métis youth, culture and connection project, generously funded by the Laidlaw Foundation.

As the second scheduled event in the project, organizers were pleased to see a mix of past participants and brand new faces. The urban Métis youth community is growing bigger and better connected with new relationships made at each event.

MNO TYRMC Senator Constance Simmonds started the event in a good way with a prayer, smudge, and sharing circle. The youth were all offered tobacco and then shared their varying experiences with Métis identity and art. MNO TYRMC Women’s Representative and Youth Committee member Lindsay DuPré then led a discussion about Métis artists while the youth had a chance to try their skills at dot art painting.

In the afternoon, MNO TYRMC Councillor Virginia Barter shared an honour song that brought tears to many eyes and opened the space for Knowledge Keepers Dave, Blanche, and Michael White to share their family’s intergenerational experience and connection with drum-making. They brought with them the materials for each of the 20 youth participants to make a hand drum for themselves or to gift to someone else in their life. Everyone was honoured to receive teachings about the drum, about the trees who supplied the frames, about the deer who supplied the hide and of course about how to actually construct a drum. Some found the process of wrapping and tying up the strings of hide easier than others, but in the end, each person had a drum to call their own.

As the drums dried, Knowledge Keepers, MNO Citizens, and musical sibling duo Alicia and Liam Blore shared their knowledge of Métis music on the fiddle and guitar. Afterwards Knowledge Keepers Sterling Lavergne and Brad Lafortune demonstrated their amazing jigging, explained the stories behind some of the dances and taught a few steps.

At the end of the day, youth were invited to stay for a Jigging event held by the MNO TYRMC for all community members with jigging instruction, spoon-playing, fiddle and guitar music provided by Brad, Alicia, Liam, and Virginia.

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: March 21, 2016