It was an event that brought together people of Métis, Filipino, Ukrainian, and Norwegian heritages to celebrate their cultures through food, dance, crafts and more.

The ‘Unity in Our Community – Breaking Bread Together in Reconciliation’ event was hosted by Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Eastern Region II (MN-S ERII) with the co-operation of the community of Porcupine Plain, on Feb. 11.

The Métis display that was set up just outside the hall was a 10-foot by 15-foot canvas tent at the entrance, and traditional clothing brought by Ethel Lee-Colby. Elder Margaret Harrison shared her fry bread and craft display, and also demonstrated chokecherry crushing and frying Saskatoons. Brent Digness, the regional director for MN-S ERII, prepared Moose Stew, while Leona Kwiatkowski had fresh bannock coming out of the kitchen throughout the day. The Creeland Dancers and The Dean Smith Band showcased their Métis song and dance, and Amy Seesequasis of the Creeland Dancers spoke to the audience about creating safe spaces for people to share their culture and identity. She emphasized the importance of recognizing that we all have a shared history, and we should honor the cultures that came here and helped to form these territories.

Julie Hall and Trinidad Francisco, representatives for the Filipino community, organized an incredible performance of the Philippines’ national anthem, several beautiful dances and professional singer Nino Hernandez serenaded his wife Raquel. The Filipino community shared Adobo chicken and pork, spring rolls, rice noodle dish and desserts, and had beautiful displays of artwork.

Ukraine representatives, Evelyn Polowski and Sheena Thorpe, had a beautiful display of tablecloths and pysanky, as well as a variety of food to share, including perogies, buckwheat and rice cabbage rolls, garlic sausage, borscht, sauerkraut soup, and kutia (Wheat Berry Pudding).

The Norway display was also breathtaking, with lefse (a soft flatbread), moose meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, and krumkake available to taste, and Myrna Smith and her daughter Debbie-Lori Stuart shared Norwegian songs and dancing by slideshow.

Representatives from all four cultures gathered together to cut the beautiful cake with flowers inspired by Métis beadwork, representing the national flowers of Ukraine, Norway, and the Philippines. Minister Digness gave thanks to Koral Kriger of Porcupine Plain who designed the cake and said, “she had such a vision and represented the afternoon perfectly.”

Digness, who also serves as the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan’s Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, commended the Porcupine Air Cadets as they played a huge role in the success of this event with them setting up tables the night before, being present to assist throughout the event and cleaning up when it was over. Digness said they added to the event by showing up in their uniforms, showing the respect to the flag and showcased their sense of pride and leadership in the community. He said to have youth be here and truly want to be a part of reconciliation encourages him to continue to hold events throughout his region.

Dignitaries included Digness, MLA for Kelvington-Wadena Hugh Nerlien, and Porcupine Plain mayor Nick Wood, who expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be a partner in both reconciliation and unity.

The major sponsor for this incredible event was BHP Jansen. Digness said that reconciliation is ongoing and it is his vision that we as a people heal because healing is the only way to heal as a nation.

“This is only the beginning and when your community is open to learning and engaged in the cultures, I encourage our citizens to continue to be involved.”

By: Nicole Goldsworthy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal