After their first day of paddling, the excitement of the campers participating in the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Été: A Métis Summer Camp Experience was more obvious than their sore shoulders or blistered hands.
Youth in Grades 10 to 12 from across Ontario travelled to Lake Huron’s north shore to Blind River on Sunday in anticipation of a week-long journey that will have them paddle up to 30 kilometres each day on their way to Sault Ste. Marie.
On the way, they will set up camp, stop at Métis historic sites and will participate in cultural activities, including finger weaving, voyageur games, embroidery, wood carving and jigging.
Their journey to retrace their ancestors’ route began on Monday when campers learned about boat safety, on-water communication, how to paddle and manoeuver the canoes, navigate and more before visiting a Métis trading post and the Mississauga Delta Cemetery.
Several ancestors of MNO North Channel Métis Council President Yvonne Jensen are buried at the gravesite. She paddled alongside the campers to the site and shared some family history with them. Among those who are buried there is Henry Sayer, a Métis man who worked for both the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company. He died in 1869 at the age of 85.
The activities are part of the third of five seasonal camps organized by the MNO and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. The winter camp took place in Thunder Bay and the spring camp was held near Midland.
Campers will travel home on Saturday, Aug. 4.