School District 58 and The Nicola Valley Metis Association hosted a Metis Culture Camp at Rotary Park on Friday, May 6.
Over 200 students from both Merritt and Princeton attended and learned more about the Metis culture.

“As part of our culture camp we partner with our local community to put on events that highlight traditional knowledge, bring forward our elders, and really allow us to share in the culture of each of our communities,” Superintendent Steve McNiven explained.

Students from Diamond Vale, Merritt Central Elementary, Bench Elementary, Nicola Canford, Merritt Secondary School, Vermillion Forks, John Allison, and Collettville Elementary were in Rotary Park this past Friday from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. They were treated to six different stations highlighting different aspects of the Metis culture.

“The youth loved going from spot to spot and the teachers were just as excited,” said Kaniikaniit Leader of The Nicola Valley Metis Association, Betty Ann McDonnell. “Everyone was just so positive ”

“It was a good day,” McNiven added. “Nothing but positive comments from students, teachers, support staff, and administrators.”
The six stations the kids attended were as follows;

-Metis Jigging
-Axe Throwing
-Feather Painting
-Early Childhood Years – Kokum Dolls
-Story Telling

“Princeton is part of School District 58 so we invited beaders from there to come at this event,” McDonnell noted.

“We’d like to include our Metis family as often as we can and gratefully they were able to come.”

McDonnell observed that the kids were interested in the ax throwing station the most.

“Plastic axes! Not the real thing because liability is important,” McDonnell joked.

“They loved that station and in the old days, for our culture, we would have done things like that.”

For lunch, the kids were then served moose stew, berries, baked bannock, water, and juice, in line with Metis cuisine.
McNiven noted that this event was also a breath of fresh air as most activities in the past two years have been canceled or done in a limited capacity.

“I thought today was really about connection,” said McNiven. “To be able to have them connect to the Metis community here at the park is just a wonderful opportunity and a great experience for them.”

McNiven also acknowledged that events like this is a great step towards the idea of “truth and reconciliation.”

“The Metis experience is a unique one and it’s important for our children and learning community to understand that experience and to be able to participate in cultural activities like this.”

The next event SD#58 will be hosting is the Aboriginal Education Celebration in Shulus Arbor on Wednesday, May 25.