Ten Saskatchewan Métis citizens were honoured for their achievements at an awards banquet in Regina Saturday night.
Winners of 2014 Métis Awards include Regina elementary school teacher Alison Kimbley, who was presented the Gabriel Dumont award for education; North Central Regina community advocate Kari Herbert, who won the health and wellness award; and artisan Margaret Harrison who took home the award for community and social development.
Other winners were Aboriginal court worker Janette Reinson, who won the Louis Riel award for social justice; tattoo artist Jayde Goodon, who was given the arts award; multi-sport athlete Hanna Dunnigan, who was the youth award winner; and MBC news director Kelly Provost who took home the journalism award.
Late Métis elder Dorothy Fayant, who passed away in 2010, was posthumously awarded the portrait of honour award.
Longtime Buffalo Narrows Correctional Centre employee and union rep Herb Norton won the lifetime achievement award.
And Buffalo Narrows resident Liz Paradzik – who has been a conservation officer, fire behaviour specialist and dispatcher with Saskatchewan Environment – was presented the most honourable Métis woman award by international entertainer Andrea Menard.
Menard also gave the keynote address and used the opportunity to challenge Métis people to reverse negative ideas they may have about themselves.
“Métis people were shaped and strengthened by a larger culture, instead of ‘oppressed’ – we were shaped and strengthened,” she says. “And instead of saying, ‘We have to fight to be heard,’ Métis are the voice of unity and balance. And to me, turning those around just completely empowers us.”
Wiichihiwayshinawn Foundation board member Ashley Norton says this weekend’s event really addresses what she and the other co-founders feel has been missing in the Métis community.
“When we first started, we felt it was important to honour Métis people,” she says “There wasn’t enough positive stories in the Métis community, especially in the south. We feel that, in the south, Métis people are misrepresented and there’s not a lot of pride here. There’s not a lot of cultural heritage – everything is so split apart.”
The Métis Awards are in their third year.