During the week of April 24 to 27, 2017, members of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) took part at the annual Turtle Island Heritage Festival in Wellington.
The County of Wellington Museum and Archives in Aboyne played host to students of the Upper Grand District School Board by offering a series of workshops celebrating First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and heritage.
Over 1118 students between grades 3-12 were in attendance this year. More than 50 teachers and volunteer parents also partook in the festivities.
Daily opening ceremonies gave students the opportunity to orient themselves and witness the traditions of drumming, singing and prayer circles. Elders shared their knowledge and explained the values held within Métis culture. George and Ron Parkinson were the Firekeepers.
Workshops offered throughout the day included: Medicine Pouch Workshop with MNO GRMC; Inuit Culture Workshop with Nijanani Novalinga; Sky Buffalo Drum Workshop with MNO citizen John Somosi; Dance Workshop with Tribal Vision; Voyageur Games Workshop with MNO Community Relations Manager Hank Rowlinson; MNO Beading Workshop with Naomi Smith; Residential School Survivor with Geronimo Henry; and Métis Fur Trapping with MNO citizen Jim Tolles.
Students were eager to participate. The hands-on approach to many of these activities gave them a better understanding and connection. Inquisitive students asked numerous questions with topics including the Métis sash, Louis Riel and the physical abilities of the Voyageurs.