Local 11 focusing on language culture and education
- Andrea Ledding | December 16, 2018
Gabriel Dumont Local 11 (GD Local 11) in Saskatoon is one of four local Métis organizations, with the longest history in the city: one of culture and activism since 1970. Their most recent event was a sold-out “Métis Kitchen Party” bison supper and dance, to fundraise for their office space and programming at Habitat for Humanity, between grants.
“We’re all very likeminded and of the same belief that our city needs more cultural events,” said current President Faye Maurice. “We’re very happy to be the leaders in that. Our families need it, our people definitely need it. We hope to have events like this every month, educational fun event that people can come to and celebrate who we are, that’s the most important part of the work we do as a council. Provide opportunities for our community to celebrate and be proud. And that’s all we want to do.”
In January they will be holding a New Year’s celebration on the 5th, King’s Day, at St. George’s Hall on 20th again — $10 admission, and families can book a table to host visiting and share desserts, just like the old New Year’s visits that used to happen from house to house. Programming will resume in January, with weekly beading classes, and Michif classes every Wednesday from 7-8:30 pm in their office space. Maurice noted Michif classes at the Friendship Centre twice a week will complement each other, their partnerships are important.
“My goal in the New Year is to start a children’s singing group, because we have lots of songs in Michif now that are just waiting to be sung, and my goal is to do a CD. So that’s in the works, Phil and Dallas Boyer are on board as musicians and we will put out a learning CD singing in Michif.”
Other projects include taking youth to the land, kinder-jigging for moms and tots with Kohkoms, and of course the popular weekly beading classes at the Habitat for Humanity office space, which ran from 7-9 Wednesdays in 2018 but will likely shift to Thursdays in the new year. Board member Chantelle is working on Michif games and language resources, which include a Michif 101 poster, and a series around the language.
“We’re talking right now about honouring those people who paved the way for us, recognizing them, naming things after them. When they got that hall on Ave B, the Jim Sinclair Centre, they all took money out of their own pockets for that hall, and they all signed their names on the mortgage,” said Maurice of the first board of directors, comparing the current group to being as exceptional as the founders whom she also knew. “We’re not that much different in that all of us give not only our time but our money to ensuring the success of our events, our council, and our local.”
She admits to a political streak but describes it as good politics and advocacy, the type that got the Métis nation where it is. This includes advocacy for youth and children, and pressure to have Michif schools. After six years of classes she’s not yet fluent, but even what she’s learned has given her insight into Michif worldview. “There is power to knowing the language. And I’m a little more radical because of it.”
She says when you have a belief combined with the power of a group of people who all believe in the same things, amazing things happen.
“We’re going to build our local and be a fairly large force to recognize in this city around culture, language, and education, and traditions. That’s our mandate.”