Joy Sundin, president of the Prince Rupert and District Métis Society, is excited about the recognition of Métis Awareness Week in Prince Rupert. (Shannon Lough photo)

Métis Awareness Week comes to Prince Rupert

The community has plenty of activities planned to build connections and engage residents

By order of the mayor, November 11-16 is officially Métis Awareness Week in Prince Rupert, culminating on Saturday with Louis Riel Day which honours the Métis hero.

Mayor Lee Brain made the proclamation at the end of August with the goal of recognizing one of Prince Rupert’s smaller, but at the same time very vibrant, communities. Joy Sundin is the president of the Prince Rupert and District Métis Society, and talked about the many different cultural programs the group offers.

“During Seafest we were in the parade with a float, and we made bison and elk burgers. At the autumn equinox we had a kayaking afternoon and a potluck in the evening,” Sundin explained of some of the activities the organization has performed. Cooking classes, social times, women’s events, National Aboriginal Day and more have also been key parts of the group’s goal to connect Prince Rupert’s Métis community.

Sundin estimates that there are approximately 150 Métis members in Prince Rupert, with 20 or so on Haida Gwaii.

The total is small even compared to other towns along the highway, with Terrace having around 225, Smithers 200 and Prince George 400. By 2016 numbers British Columbia had more than 89,000 Métis people, putting the province on par population wise with Manitoba, the Métis homeland. Ontario and Alberta have the largest Métis populations in the country.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City: Aisa Smithanik: Even kids can be a part of something big

Sundin did not discover her Métis heritage until later in life, as her father did not want her to face the same discrimination he did growing up Métis. Upon learning her background though, Sundin has only become more determined to find out as much as she can about the history of her people and ancestors.

“Sometimes it’s overwhelming to try and understand it, and try and pass on knowledge you get to your children and siblings and cousins. Do you know how much Métis information is out there to learn about what your grandparents and great grandparents went through?” Sundin asked. “It’s all out there and it’s very exciting.”

The Métis organization has plenty planned in the near future as well, starting with the Louis Riel dance at the Moose Hall on Nov. 23. In true Métis fashion, fiddle music and jigging will highlight the dance. Sundin says there has been a spike in interest among people off all ages wanting to learn to play the fiddle. Those interested may be in luck, as Prince Rupert is home to a prominent Métis fiddler, Andrew Goulet. The group is on the lookout for fiddles in order to accommodate the demand.

READ MORE: WATCH: It was Filipino fun at one of Prince Rupert’s best parties in town

Beading is also an important Métis tradition, and one Sundin hopes to build interest in through classes on traditional Métis flower beading in the near future. She also hopes to help people, including herself, rediscover the michif language of the Métis people.

The first day of Métis Awareness Week was fittingly Remembrance Day, with the Métis people having a long and proud history of service. The Métis were recently recognized at a ceremony in Ottawa for their service during World War II, with an acknowledgement that they were treated unfairly compared to other veterans upon their return home. Ottawa is currently in the process of compensating veterans for the injustice.

“We’ll wear our sashes on Remembrance Day in honour of the Métis people that were veterans. There’s a huge veteran organization part of the Métis Nation that are recognized, and we exalt them and say thank you, just as any Canadian,” Sundin explained. “That’s important, we’re all Canadians, we [Métis] just have a unique culture and a unique history.”


Alex Kurial | Journalist
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sentencing hearings begin as Prince Rupert man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Mike Christopher Hagen charged with possession of child pornography earlier this year

Prince Rupert guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Chevron’s move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

COUNCIL: City of Prince Rupert planning to consider borrowing money, new RCMP online crime reporting

More: MacLean Magazine crime stats not surprising but misleading: RCMP, Nyugen gets ceremony

Cook serves up the icing on the cake for Prince Rupert

Triumphant home return for Josh Cook as Rampage roll River Kings on Hometown Hockey weekend

EXCLUSIVE | Ron MacLean on Prince Rupert: “A kaleidoscope for the eyes”

Rogers Hometown Hockey host on Canucks, B.C.’s First Nations story and hockey’s new reflection phase

WEB POLL: Is hockey part of your identity as a Canadian?

Prince Rupert is Hometown Hockey! Is the sport part of your national identity?

The Northern View presents Santa Shops Here in Prince Rupert

More reasons to spend your shopping dollars locally

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Most Read