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GDI 40th Anniversary Event a Resounding Success

By Karon Shmon

Mar 19, 2020

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The Gabriel Dumont Institute is celebrating its 40th year in 2020. This milestone was the focus of a 2-day cultural celebration held February 7th and 8th in Saskatoon.  The event was preceded by a special ceremony at which 20 students received the Order of Gabriel Dumont – Bronze Medal following a keynote address from Duane Favel, a SUNTEP grad and current Mayor of Île-à-la-Crosse, SK.  The Order of Gabriel Dumont Bronze Medal honours GDI students and alumni who have distinguished themselves through leadership, community involvement, and overall performance.


“The Order of Gabriel Dumont is awarded by the Gabriel Dumont Institute to persons who have distinguished themselves with outstanding service to the Métis of Canada,” said Geordy McCaffrey, GDI executive director. “It is one of the Métis Nation’s highest civilian honours, awarded to Métis and non-Métis individuals based on their achievements and lifetime contributions.”


Silver and Gold medal recipients were invested at the evening gala held February 7th.  Silver medal recipients were Glenn Lafleur and Norma Welsh. The Order of Gabriel Dumont Silver Medal honours those who have made significant contributions to the Métis.  Gold medal recipients included Jean Baptiste (John) Arcand, Clément (Clem) Chartier, and Lawrence J. Barkwell (Posthumous.) The Order of Gabriel Dumont Gold Medal recognizes lifetime of outstanding service to the Métis of Canada.  The honorees were celebrated with the music of a cadre of talented Métis performers which included John Arcand, Donny Parenteau, Jess Lee, Lucas Welsh, Tristen Durocher, Tahnis Cunningham, Angela Rancourt and Julianna Parenteau. They delivered a delightfully entertaining showcase at the gala.


The conference was highlighted with keynote addresses from renowned author, playwright, and activist Maria Campbell on Friday, and on Saturday from Jesse Thistle, researcher and author of his best-selling memoir, “From the Ashes.” Their powerful keynotes were followed with over fifty break-out workshops and presentations that fit with GDI’s cultural and education mandate. These varied from hands-on workshops such as beading, finger weaving, embroidery, Red River cart building, jigging, and square dancing, to presentations by Métis researchers, academics, and knowledge keepers.


In its 40 years, GDI has provided over 1300 students with Bachelor of Education degrees, established services in 11 communities and created partnerships with the universities in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and the regional colleges. The Institute is the largest employer of Métis people in the province.


“It’s pretty impressive to think about the impact we’ve had on Saskatchewan and the number of people we’ve trained. Seeing alumni and all the people from the community who have supported GDI and recognized the importance of having a Métis controlled institution is overwhelming,” said McCaffrey.


More about the conference can be seen at: https://gdins.org/gabriel-dumont-institute-celebrates-40th-anniversary-2/


The article first appeared in the FristNationsDrum.Com. It has been edited for space.

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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