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Metis Week proves busy for participants

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Terry Lusty, Sweetgrass Writer, EDMONTON







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The week of Nov. 13 through 20th - Metis Week - was a beehive of activity that featured several open houses, a conference, the Louis Riel commemoration and a number of cultural festivities.

The week's theme was Honoring the Metis Child and was kicked off with a trade show sponsored by the Aboriginal Business and Professional Association and a mini-symposium on Metis land and resource rights at the University of Alberta.

Entitled "The truth about Metis Scrip," presenter Chris Anderson from the School of Native Studies said the conference focused on how the Metis and issues surrounding them are being considered in Canada's courts.

On Nov. 14, about 45 people made the trek to St. Margaret's Church for a Metis mass with Rev. Garry Laboucane officiating. The event included a potluck lunch and was hosted by the Metis Nation and Zone 1V.

Nov. 15 saw Meis Nation of Alberta president Audrey Poitras and others gather at Edmonton city hall for the official raising of the Metis flag and the formal proclamation of Metis Week. The day was capped by a afternoon "bannock and jammer" at the Zone 1V Metis office with entertainment provided by John Wanyandi and Miss Yvonne, as well as special guests.

A rather somber chord was struck Tuesday morning when several hundred people turned up for the funeral services of Elder Delia Gray at St. Joseph's Cathedral. Gray, 82, was the senior-most Metis Elder of the Metis Nation of Alberta.

Despite all, regularly scheduled events went forward, including the Riel commemoration at the provincial legislature, followed by a brunch and open house at the Metis Cultural Dance Studio.

NorQuest College, formerly AVC, also held a noon hour history of Metis Week and paid tribute to Metis staff and students on campus.

Both the Metis Child and Family Services and the Metis Nation of Alberta sponsored open houses and receptions that were well attended on Nov. 17.

An all-day workshop led by Metis professor, Cora Weber-Pilwax, was conducted in the basement of the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples on Nov. 18. The seminar drew a small but determined group that sought to clarify the meaning of literacy in Metis life. A long-range goal of the group is to form a more permanent body that will continue to address Metis literacy. On this same day, Apeetogosan Development Inc. hosted an open house and Metis Urban Housing followed suit the next day.

The final two days were dedicated to an arts and crafts show at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, as well as talent competitions and evening dances on both Friday and Saturday.