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Métis community hall buzzes with activity

By Anne-Marie Armstrong Aboriginal Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Coordinator FORT FRANCES

B onjour. I am the Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program Coordi- nator working out of the Fort Frances Sunset Coun- try Métis office located at 426 Vic- toria Avenue. I am honoured to work with Charmaine Langlais, Community Healing and Wellness Coordinator; Sabrina Stoessinger, Long Term Care Coordinator; Dana O’Donnell, who is our Re- gional Employment and Training Coordinator, and Brian Tucker, the Manager of Métis Traditional Knowledge and Land Use. We also have our Mental Health project with “telehealth” capabilities lo- cated at this office.

We are very fortunate that our council has a perfect venue for our workshops and presentations and participant-based events. With this in mind, please join me for a virtual tour of a week at the Sunset Country Métis Community Hall, located at 714 Armit Avenue.

As you walk into the hall on the first Wednesday of the month to order your Healthy Living Food Box, your senses are inundated with the smell of home cooking, the sound of laughter and the sight of young and old working together at a Proper Nutrition Workshop. We have a wonderful partnership with registered dieti- cian Janet Drennan from Gizhe- waadiziwin Health Access Centre. Janet and staff from the Access Centre bring everything but the stove and kitchen sink. Our pro- grams provide the groceries, recipes, and various culturally ap- propriate presentations, circles, or craft workshops.

The kitchens are open to young and old, and families are encouraged to attend. Children are provided with supervised ac- tivities in the main hall while their parents or caregivers cook up a storm. Participants plan the menu from month to month based on the Canada Food Guide and cost effectiveness. Meals usually con- sist of salad, meat and vegetable dishes and diabetic friendly desserts. Everyone helps with the meal preparation and clean up. We always take time for a healthy snack or lunch, and the laughter, sharing of stories and socializing throughout the afternoon is priceless, and then people go home with supper for their fami- lies. Registration is on a first- come-first-served basis by calling the Métis office at 274-1386 and asking for Anne-Marie.

Community kitchens are also offered in the community of Rainy River throughout the year and this is made possible through a partnership with the Health Ac- cess Centre, the Rainy River

North-western Health Unit, the Best Start Hub/Family Resource Centre and our Métis Nation of Ontario Healing and Wellness Branch.

Walk into the hall on the third Wednesday of the month and you will see volunteers set up at five different stations filling boxes with fresh fruit and vegetables. The Healthy Living Food Program was four years old in November, 2010, and is not-for-profit. Partici- pants order their boxes on the first Wednesday of the month or on pick up day (the third Wednes- day of every month). The food box costs $20.00 and other than a few small administrative costs such as supplies for the hall, or plastic bags, the money goes back into purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables. We try to provide as much locally grown food as possi- ble, and one local farmer, Mr. Ja- cob Gerber, has been able to pro- vide us with potatoes year-round. A monthly newsletter with healthy recipes, food handling, storage and nutrition tips is in- cluded in each box. The program is open to all, regardless of age or financial situation, because the idea is to help provide access to healthy foods at an affordable price and promote healthy life styles.


The Healthy Living Program was brought about through part- nerships with MNO Healing and Wellness programs, Gizhewaadizi- win Health Access Centre, Fort Frances North-western Health Unit and Valley Diabetes Educa- tion, our Sunset Country Métis Council and Ventures. We must not forget our wonderful volun- teers who show up month after month and make this a commu- nity driven program. Without their help we could never run this program.

The hall undergoes a transfor- mation for Thursday mornings. Open the door anytime between 9:00 and 11:00 A.M. and you will be greeted by the sound of chil- dren at play. Our “Kids Being

Kids” program provides children with an opportunity to interact with their peers while engaged in free play. Riding toys, slides, a kitchen, reading and craft areas are just some of the activities of- fered. A healthy snack is pro- vided, and of course coffee is available for parents, grandpar- ents, and caregivers. The adults are encouraged to watch over and/or join their children at play, but the program has also pro- vided them with a support group and a chance to socialize. Presen- tations or workshops on parent- ing, life skills, health and nutrition are also part of the program. The Kids Being Kids program came about thanks to networking and partnering with the Fort Frances Best Start Hub Outreach program and of course the generosity of our council.

The hall has been vibrating on Mondays and Tuesdays for the last twelve weeks to music and exer- cise with close to 50 participants at our “New Year, New You Dia- betes Boot Camp”. Participants were put through a half hour ex- ercise regime once a week, fol- lowed by a presentation on health issues and a healthy snack. This program was so popular that it has been opened to those on the waiting list and we are running another 12 week program to pro- mote healthy life styles with the focus on diabetes prevention. The Métis Nation of Ontario Heal- ing and Wellness Branch, Gizhe- waadiziwin Health Access Centre, Valley Diabetes Education, and Fort Frances North-western Health Unit are committed to reaching as many people from all walks of life as possible and pro- viding a positive experience which they can pass on to family and friends.

As you can see, our Métis hall is very busy throughout the week, and this is not even looking at the rentals for other exercise pro- grams, workshops with other agencies or social events. We are very fortunate to have this venue to use as a base for our partici- pant-based events, for Métis gath- erings, and meetings. Council and staff hope to start hosting danc- ing evenings on a regular basis.

As stated on our website: “The Métis Nation of Ontario Healing and Wellness Branch facilitates and coordinates activities to ad- dress the holistic needs of the Métis Nation in Ontario at the provincial, regional and local lev- els. Holistic Aboriginal health in- cludes the physical, mental, emo- tional, spiritual and cultural as- pects of life.” We encourage you to check out our programs and events by calling or visiting us at the office or the Métis hall.

Anne-Marie Armstrong Tel: 807-274-1386 Fort Frances, ON


MNO Healing & Wellness Branch is hosting a

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 11am to 7pm Dutrisac Cottages in Sturgeon Falls, Ont.

Lunch and Supper provided Book your craft table now Activities for everyone

For more information contact: Timmins - 705-264-3939 North Bay - 705-474-0734


Métis citizen publishes first historical novel

F ormer MNO registrar, Ka- role Dumont-Beckett, has published her first book, an historical novel titled, Rain- bows in Time. Born in Mattawa, she is a fourth generation Métis. Karole became interested in her family’s Anishinabe, Scots, and French history when she was only 17. Now a grandmother of three, Karole finds herself drawn into that history more and more.

It turns out that Karole has been writing since she was five or six years old and has always wanted to write and publish a book. Rainbows in Time is scheduled for release on June 17th, and in order to expedite some of the technicalities of publishing, she has formed her own company: Métis Publishing.

When asked about the con- tent of this first book to hit the presses, she said it was “pure imagination”. She says she has a sense of creating the characters and then “letting them go”. However, as with all writers, a certain amount of the author in- evitably ends up in the story be- cause writers can only write what they know. Karole’s expe- rience as an ambulance atten- dant, her work in search and rescue, her love of horses, and her dislike of cooking, all find their way into this story.

Karole believes that a good book, “makes you cry; makes you laugh; and, makes you think.”

This is the first book in the

"In Time Series", with book two, "Mists of Time", scheduled to be released for Christmas 2011, and book three, "Tides of Time", planned for next summer.

For more information on Rainbows in Time visit the web site: www.rainbowsintime.ca.


July 22nd, Mattawa: Mattawa Voyageur Days, official novel launch and book signing at the John Dixon Library from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.

July 23rd, Mattawa: Mattawa Voyageur Days (www.voyageurdays.com)

TO BE CONFIRMED July 29-30, Maxville: Highland Games

August 20-21, Parry Sound: MNO Annual General Assembly (www.metisnation.org)

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