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RBC Foundation donates $10,000 to Aboriginal Apprenticeship Centre

O n June 21, Art Bennett, Regional Councillor of the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO), Dr. Ron Common, Presi- dent, Sault College and Carolyn Hepburn, Director of Native Ed- ucation and Academic Upgrad- ing, accepted a cheque for $10,000 from Caroline Kelly, Vice President, Branch Manager, RBC Dominion Securities, on behalf of the RBC Foundation. These funds will directly support the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Cen- tre (AAC) at Sault College.

The AAC is a partnership be- tween the MNO and Sault Col- lege and provides a client based approach to pursuing careers in the skilled trades to individuals in Sault Ste. Marie and the sur- rounding area. The AAC’s goal is to increase Aboriginal participa- tion in apprenticeship, increase youth awareness of trades and provide support systems for suc- cessful completion of appren- ticeship training. The AAC en- gages the MNO’s Education and Training Branch, Sault College’s Native Education and Training Department, industry represen- tatives and the Aboriginal com- munity. “We believe that sup- porting Métis students and learn-

  • left to right: Les Dunbar (RBC), Anthony Pucci (RBC), Art Ben- nett (MNO), Ron Common (Sault College), Caroline Kelly (RBC), Beverley Szatanski (RBC).

ers, to reach their highest poten- tial, will have life-long inter-gen- erational positive effects,” stated Regional Councillor Bennett. “Not only will Métis citizens, fam- ilies and communities benefit, but it will help build a stronger Ontario and Canada as well. The jobs of today and tomorrow de- pend on a skilled workforce and the support from the RBC Foun- dation will make many dreams a reality!” Councillor Bennett rep- resented MNO President Gary Lipinski at the ceremony. Presi- dent Lipinski commented: “The MNO greatly appreciates the support from the Royal Bank

Foundation and we are confident it will be of great assistance to Métis learners at Sault College.”

“Sault College continues to be an education destination for Na- tive students from around the province. Native Education is a key priority for the institution,” said Common. “Donations such as that provided by the RBC Foundation will ensure that Sault College continues to develop re- lationships and work in partner- ship with all Aboriginal peoples in the province to better their skills and improve their partici- pation in Ontario’s labour mar- ket and economy.”

  • left to right: Métis veteran and senator Alis Kennedy (left) and Métis veteran Shaun Redmond (right) with his Excellency, Governor General David Johnston.

Aboriginal Veterans Memorial turns 10 years old

A number of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens and Métis veterans at- tended the tenth annual remem- brance ceremony at the Aborigi- nal Veterans Monument in Ot- tawa on National Aboriginal Day this year. Over 200 people took part in the event which was or- ganized by the National Aborigi- nal Veterans Association. Among the dignitaries was his Excel- lency, David Johnston, the Gov- ernor-General of Canada, as well as representatives of the Cana- dian Government, the Métis Na- tional Council and other veteran and aboriginal organizations.

The commemoration recog- nized the sacrifices and contribu-

tions of Aboriginal veterans, in particular those who paid the ul- timate price in the service of freedom. It was acknowledged that until recently, the significant contributions of Aboriginal serv- ice members had often not been appreciated.

The ceremony included an opening prayer from Métis vet- eran Shaun Redmond. The MNO was well represented at the event by many MNO citizens in- cluding Senator Reta Gordon, Senator and Métis veteran Alis Kennedy and Senator Lois Mc- Callum as well as Métis veteran Joe Paquette and Ottawa Métis Council President Daniel Gilbeau.

Revitalizing Michif

Lii Michif maachi wanishkaawak dan leu ter • The Métis are waking up all over their land

By Theresa Stenlund Region One Councillor PCMNO

A ll across the Métis Home- land there is a growing movement to revitalize Michif, the language of the Métis people. Efforts are being made to both preserve the lan- guage and teach it to young peo- ple. An article in the May/June, 2011, Legion Magazine, titled “Saving Michif ” drew attention to Michif programs in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Colum- bia and important work is also go- ing on in Ontario.

The article explains that al- though Michif was already widely used by 1840, it, like other Abo- riginal languages was often sup- pressed and even banned. As a re- sult, Michif did not get passed on to younger generations and most Michif speakers today are elderly. Part of the growing pride of Métis people across the Homeland is awareness that Michif is an im- portant aspect of our history and culture. Insuring the language is passed on to new generations has become a priority. The Manitoba Métis Federation has Michif pro- grams in six of its communities while the Métis Nation British Co- lumbia has established a website (www.learnmichif.com) dedicated

to teaching Michif. The Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan has created DVDs and CDs that target all age groups and draw on the knowledge and guidance of Métis elders and Michif speakers.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is playing a major part in the movement to revitalize Michif. The Education and Train- ing Branch has recently produced a “Métis Education Kit” that in- cludes posters with Michif words (along with English and French) describing several important ele- ments of Métis culture. The edu- cation kits are available to Métis educators throughout Ontario.

Some of the most important work being done revitalizing Michif is taking place at the com- munity level. An excellent exam- ple is the “Sharing the Michif Lan- guage” course initiated by the Kenora Métis Council. Over 20 Métis are participating in Michif language classes that are being funded by the Federal Depart- ment of Canadian Heritage through the Aboriginal Lan- guages Initiative (ALI). The pro- gram provides 20 weeks of lan- guage instruction through a vari- ety of different media. Speakers and instructors from Manitoba have facilitated some classes and on-line learning, short drama

skits, uniquely created versions of popular games, cooking and crafting activities, and visits to outside venues have all been used to teach Michif. While the majority of participants are young people, the ages have ranged from six to 84, which has pro- vided a great opportunity for youth to interact and learn from Métis elders.

“Children were encouraged to learn with the adults and elders as the vehicle of learning histori- cally through the family system,” explained Theresa Stenlund, the Provisional Council of the MNO (PCMNO) Councillor for Region 1 (which includes Kenora). “We felt by re-creating this form of educa- tion, we could develop a family- oriented learning atmosphere. It was incredible how much they learned and how much we learned from them! All the partic- ipants were very accepting and patient of this process and it en- hanced our learning experience.” Besides being the PCMNO Coun- cillor, Theresa also has two chil- dren enrolled in the Michif course.

In order to motivate the chil- dren (and adults), students par- ticipate in monthly trading posts where they can spend the “Métis dollars” earned throughout the classes to purchase and barter for

  • Métis Elder Greg Triskle

with his great-grandchildren Katelyne Stenlund and Hayden Stenlund. This great-grandfa- ther provides spiritual guid- ance and direction for the stu- dents. He tells stories and shares his knowledge and teachings of growing up off the land where he was a trapper and bush worker.

items with fur trader McPherson. To encourage participation, Métis dollars were handed out to stu- dents who participated in class and/or volunteered to help with snacks, clean up, and/or deliver a Métis presentation of their own choosing.

“The Métis culture for our chil- dren is an important aspect of knowing who they are and the rich history they come from,” stated Theresa. “It is our strong Métis identity that needs to be


Tawnshi Kiya? Hello, how are you?

Nimiyou ayawn. I am fine.

Tawnshi eyishinikawshoyan? What is your name?

... Dishinikawshon My name is ...

Tawnshi ayshikeeshikawk? How is the weather?

taught to our children and grand- children. The Métis in this area and across Ontario have deep roots to the land and the Métis way of life that need to be shared more often. I am very pleased that the Kenora Métis Council is offering the children and adults of the Kenora area a chance to re- gain our language and also ex- pose and teach our Métis culture throughout the Michif lessons,” she added.

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