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Northeast Métis elders meet to discuss Library on Wheels project

The Métis Nation Saskatchewan Eastern Region II Elders’ Branch Gathering was held in Tisdale on Feb. 8.
Métis Nation Saskatchewan Eastern Region II hosted an Elders’ Gathering in Tisdale on Wednesday, Feb. 8. From left, starting in the back, are Regional Director Brent Digness, Ray Childs, Dennis Miller, Justina Wiens, Ethel Lee-Colby, Rita Rollings and Viola Bell in front are Margaret Harrison, Marilyn Duns, Anne Amyotte and Margaret Panchyshyn.

TISDALE — Métis elders based in the Northeast gathered to discuss their Library on Wheels project, health, Gabriel Dumont Institute and roundtable discussions.

The Métis Nation Saskatchewan Eastern Region II Elders’ Branch Gathering was held in Tisdale on Feb. 8. The meeting was co-ordinated by Métis Nation Saskatchewan Eastern Region II.

Brent Digness, the director for Eastern Region II – which includes Tisdale, Porcupine Plain, Melfort, Nipawin, Wynyard, Preeceville and Hudson Bay – said he was glad to see the gathering and hopes to see more of them in his area.

Elder Margaret Harrison spoke about the mobile library. She spearheaded this idea to bring this library to communities around the northeast, throughout Eastern Region II. Since she started the ‘Library on Wheels’ last year, she has accumulated approximately $5,000 worth of Indigenous books, mainly from the Gabriel Dumont Institute. ER II Elders’ Branch recently received new wheels in the purchase of a van to help store and keep all the books inside, as well as to bring these books and craft workshops around the region. Elder Harrison said that her work and this program is specifically for the elders and the elderly of her communities.  There is a youth component, because they want to mentor and teach the children their stories, Michif language, and traditional crafting. 

Harrison spoke about a few different books that are included in her mobile library, all written by indigenous authors. Ride Gabe Ride, written by Wilford Burton based on historic events, tells the tale of dangerous, exhilarating hunt led by the famed Métis buffalo hunter. This book was featured and read at Storybook Stroll at Scott Park in Porcupine Plain last summer. Also written by Wilford Burton, Road Allowance Kitten is a story for Grades 3, 4 and 5 and is about two children who were taken to a residential school but were not allowed to take their pet kitten. The home of the characters, Rosie and Madeline, included their pet kitten. Just imagine being told you have to leave home, without your pet, the elder said. Another she mentions is From This Window, also by Burton.

 “I want to bring a smile to our elders by bringing a knock to their door offering a culture book,” Elder Harrison said. “Lots of color to open your eyes, and to get to know the authors and our people and our stories. And our stories, written in Michif, to learn our language to our great grandchildren. Culture weighs symbols and our spoken word, our language makes our nation. The spirit of our nation brought this vision to form here for the people. Books to hold in your hand, to take you back in our culture and relive in the hard times in the 1800s to now. Remember where we came from on our journey. History has been written and all our great artists so we awaken our people as Louis Riel wrote, excitement to learn about our people, be educated which is a must for our children.”

She encourages any Elders or elderly who would be interested in accessing this mobile library to contact her at 306-620-9119 or contact the MN-ERII office at [email protected].