Cheer Story: Métis Local 44 holds dedication ceremony for Tipi at Bradley Park
On June 10, Métis Local 44 and people from across the region celebrated the dedication of the new permanently-installed tipi at Bradley Park in Moosomin.
The tipi will serve as a space for teaching youth and people in the community about the local Métis Nation and its heritage.
From Saskatchewan’s Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Community Enhancement Grant program, the community was able to build the tipi in Moosomin to support Métis early learning and child care programming.
People from the community and surrounding area attended the event, sharing traditional stories with one another and dancing to music, played by Métis fiddler Jason Lepine.
“This is a historic day, I’m proud of what we achieved, a permanent functional symbol of our culture as Métis people in Saskatchewan,” said Ed Blondeau, president of Métis Local 44 in Moosomin.
“A tipi is meant for shelter and a place to gather. This structure will serve for those purposes for everyone in this community.
“It will also serve to educate and highlight the way of life Métis have always led here.”
Inside of the tipi are various pictures of ancestors and families of Métis people who live in Moosomin, or who once lived in the area.
There is also an electronic kiosk inside of the shelter which will be used to show stories of local ancestors, as well as some history, and local information that will evolve and change over time.
“I was raised to be aware of my Métis heritage and to be proud of it at home and among the family, but not so much when we were out in the general public,” said Blondeau tearfully.
“It was quietly taught to us that it was better not to mention it, to fit in. Times have changed, our children, our grandchildren are openly embracing being Métis and it’s helping us to teach them how to do that.
“That’s what building this tipi meant to me. The way to make our heritage part of our community, to let our culture be visible and dedicate our spiritual space to keep our stories alive.”
The Métis Local 44 applied for the grant to have the project set up back in November.
Blondeau said the preparation and installation of the whole project came together quickly.
“From November to now wasn’t much time, but everything turned out really well,” he said.
“Hopefully this helps people learn and helps people teach others. We have the kiosk in there, and the town has been really good. They’ve been really helpful so that’s hugely appreciated.
“We did this with a community enhancement grant and you can’t get more community than this, everyone has been involved.”
Blondeau thanked people and groups in the community for their help with developing the project in the last six months.
“I have many people to thank for this project being so successful, first the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MN-S), the Early Learning Child Care Community Enhancement Grant, they provided us the funding to encourage us to get this project going,” he said.
“The Town of Moosomin, especially the recreation department and Mike Schwean. He’s been enthusiastic right from the beginning. We absolutely could not have accomplished this without him.
“Another person that’s been a real good force in this is my wife Cindy, she’s been pushing us and it has been working.
“To the town public works crew, they’ve gone above and beyond to make this happen.
“The McNaughton High School for the interview (with elder Theresa Ireland about her life story which will be included on the kiosk), as well as the library, right in front of the tipi. There’s a little library box that will be there all of the time. It will have Indigenous books in it and everything else. Anyone who wants to use it, they sure can.
“To all of the contractors who contributed to this project, they were very helpful and were interested by doing everything possible to make sure everything went according to plan.
“To Moosomin Local 44, all of the hardworking members who showed up so many times and brought this vision to life.
“I want to thank my mother Rita Blondeau for keeping the Métis traditions part of my life. I dedicate this place to her and all of our ancestors.
“I also dedicate this structure to our children. I invite you all to come and shelter and gather here on the traditional Métis homeland, to learn about the Métis culture, and hear our stories.”
In front of the tipi is a plaque dedicated to Métis Nation-Saskatchewan ancestors.
Now with the tipi as a permanten structure, the community will have a dedicated space for Métis educational activities and children’s programs that local schools, child care centres and groups in town can use.
Article Credit: Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, the World-Spectator