Gabriel Dumont Institue

40th Anniversary – Sessions

Following are brief descriptions of the sessions available at the conference. Please click on the session name for a description

Sherry will talk about the first time she traveled to Britain seeking her material heritage. She found herself alone with one of the oldest surviving Indigenous garments. She had seen it in The Spirit Sings, a troubled exhibition that marked the beginning-of-the-end of old school anthropology and art history’s grip on our belongings. It hadn’t been returned to its glass case and she had an opportunity to touch it, to peer at the tiny stitches, and see a thread of continuity between the woman who had sewn it and the women who taught her to sew. Since then, she has come to see visits to museum collections as opportunities to learn, to retrieve knowledge that we’ve lost or forgotten, and to have conversations with artists through the careful study of their creations. In her curatorial practice, she has had opportunities to position these works in dialogue with contemporary work, as a way to honour our collective legacies, to claim our relatives and acknowledge our debt – as contemporary artists – to the resilient artists who came before.

Learn some basic footwork for dancing the Red River Jig, work towards learning the main double step and a few fancy steps.

Wilfred grew up being told many family stories (from his mother, Georgina Nolin), including how Grandma Eliza was put on the roof by her first cousin, Giant Beaupre and how Rosalie Lepine (Wilfred’s Great Grandma) was miraculously cured from an incurable disease at St. Laurent.  Stories like these reflect what life was like for the Métis in the 1800s and early 1900s.  They are full of richness that bring entertainment to all ages.  These and other family stories will be shared in this session.

Métis filmmaker and oral historian Christine Welsh argues that oral history and stories are deeply rooted in the land and provide a continuity that helps to nurture and sustain a people and their way of life. In stories about the land we find the expression of culture, values and worldview. Oral history and stories that are grounded in the local landscape play a central role in the construction of Métis spaces, histories and understandings. For Métis from the Qu’Appelle Valley, themes of family, community and the Valley landscape permeate their stories. In particular, the Valley landscape figures prominently in the stories of Old People who grew up in the Road Allowance settlements along the Qu’Appelle Lakes. Place is central in how these individuals share their stories and thus how they understand themselves, their history and their experiences within this space. Working with Old People and storytellers, Margaret Pelletier Harrison and the late Bob Desjarlais, I explore the intersection of oral histories, archival research, family genealogies and mapping methodologies to connect their stories to the places and spaces that are important to them as well as to examine Métis conceptions of place, family and community in Qu’Appelle Valley Métis communities. Mapping Margaret and Bob’s stories creates a narrative framework for understanding of family and community roles and responsibilities, kinship networks, land use and occupancy of the Qu’Appelle Valley region and for describing the ways families responded to social, economic, political and environmental changes into the mid-twentieth century.

This session takes participants on a tour through the rich history of Métis writing, from Pierre Falcon to the present. We will discuss some of the greatest works by Métis writers including those by Maria Campbell, Beatrice Mosionier, Gregory Scofield, and Cherie Dimaline, and we will also examine the broad development of a Métis literary tradition that is deeply connected to questions of land, language and kinship.  How do these novels, poems and memoirs connect us to our heritage?  What is the role of the oral tradition in these works?  What role do these books play in Métis communities today?

Northern Saskatchewan Indigenous Teacher Education Program

This presentation explores the historical development of Métis buffalo hunting and its contribution to Métis self-governance. By focusing on Métis political philosophy and examining what Métis thought about the purpose of their governments, we can better understand the ways in which our ancestors organized and how this organization continues to influence our contemporary communities.

GDI grew out of the Métis political activism of the 60’s and 70’s to become one of Canada’s most prominent Métis cultural and education Institutes. Masters of confrontation politics, the founders and political leaders of the Institute drew attention to the most pressing issues for Indigenous people at the time: jobs and education—foundations for the Métis objective of self-governance. After 40 years, the Gabriel Dumont Institute continues to deliver on this legacy.

Come and learn the basics of Métis embroidery.  All supplies will be provided.  You will have the opportunity to design and make an embroidered pouch adorned with floral embroidery in traditional Métis style.

Learn basic techniques for finger weaving.  Learn about the more complex patterns and colors of traditional sashes.

The Road Allowance period (roughly 1900-1960) is a key but little known element of Métis history and identity. As immigrant farmers took up land in the Prairie Provinces after the 1885 Northwest Resistance, many Métis dispersed to parkland and forested regions, while others squatted on Crown land used—or intended—for the creation of roads in rural areas or on other marginal pieces of land. As a result, the Métis began to be called the “Road Allowance People,” and they settled in dozens of makeshift communities throughout the three Prairie Provinces.  This presentation will discuss the various Métis Road Allowance communities in Saskatchewan.

In this session, David will share what resources are currently available in Michif, from books that have been translated, to websites and apps that have been developed.

The story of how I created my two businesses, Delta Beadworks and Aski Holistic Adventures.

In this workshop, we will facilitate a dialogue concerning why we believe reconciliation teacher education initiatives are dependent upon effective anti-racist practice. As Métis post-secondary educators who were invited to teach a reconciliation teacher education course, we wish to share with you our experiences to shed light on what we perceive to be pathways and barriers to reconciliation through teacher education.  In particular, we will outline the challenges we encountered and the limitations of such courses but also the promise and necessity of privileging truth and reconciliation teacher education programs.

Brenna Pacholko and Russ Fayant will speak about an oral history project conducted with  SUNTEP Regina students. Participants will hear how students engaged with Michif Old Ones to listen, learn and re-write their road allowance memories to produce a published collection of stories. Participants will learn about ethical engagement with Old Ones when conducting oral history research as well as hear how road allowance histories can be used to indigenize school-based curriculum. All those in attendance will receive a free copy of the collection of published stories.

Listen a panel of distinguished Métis scholars speak about their research and the impact it has had on the broader Métis community. Moderated by Amy Briley, Program Coordinator of the Gabriel Dumont College Graduate Student Bursary Program, panellists will discuss their individual research work and their engagement with the Métis community.

Listen a panel of distinguished Métis scholars speak about their research and the impact it has had on the broader Métis community. Moderated by Amy Briley, Program Coordinator of the Gabriel Dumont College Graduate Student Bursary Program, panellists will discuss their individual research work and their engagement with the Métis community.

Riel is thought to have said: “My people will sleep for One hundred years; When they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” To identify as a Métis artist, and not just as an artist, is to resist assimilation and to recognize that your practice emerges from social, political and historical necessity. If there is such a thing as Métis art, it is not simply art made by individual Métis, but works that also express the larger Métis community (past and present), art that is recognizably of a people and unique world-view. Métis is as Métis does. For many Métis, this attitude is a prophetic obligation.

In this session, David will discuss ways Michif can be preserved, promoted, and revitalized, based on consultations held with Michif speakers from across the Métis homeland.

This presentation will provide participants with the historical background of Metis Ribbon Skirts. Participants will also be exposed to the teachings that we carry surrounding the beautiful tradition of making and wearing Metis Ribbon Skirts.

Métis apparel and art has had many influences since the birth of the Métis Nation.  These influences are part of our story and reflect both the individual character of the artisan and the relationships these items have had in time, in place, and in relation to the Métis and the non-Métis. Participants will be provided with an overview of these influences which will be accompanied by imagery of how Métis art and fashion has been influenced and how it has become distinctively Métis.

Métis dance is purely for fun so put on your moccasins and join in to learn a reel or two (first change/square), contra dance (Danse Du Crochet) and some jig steps.  So many of our Métis reels and dances are being lost so this is a way to preserve them.  Come learn and pass them on to your family and community.

Join Tahnis Cunningham to hear a collection of Métis and Canadian Old Time fiddle tunes woven together with “little stories.” In this workshop, Tahnis blends her background in history with a love of fiddle music. Fiddle tunes are paired with stories that tell of the life and history of fiddle music in Canada, personal experiences, old family stories, and maybe even a few tall tales. Trace the lineage of Métis tunes, discover what makes them “crooked,” and delve into cross tuning.

The Métis are a unique post-Contact Indigenous nation formed by a perfect synthesis of First Nations and Euro-Settler traditions. Since their formation as a people, starting in the 1780s, the Métis have had an interesting and varied history. From the fur trade to bison hunting to the Road Allowance period, through two world wars to the modern era and the struggle to have their inherent Indigenous rights recognized, the Métis have contributed immensely to the region’s and country’s history. This interactive session will highlight key aspects of Métis history and cultural achievement.

Introduction to herbal medicine and a short tea ceremony.

The Michif language is an endangered Indigenous language with a very small group of speakers left in Western Canada, therefore language revitalization efforts are imperative. Spring 2019 marked the first Michif Language Immersion Camp that SUNTEP-Regina offered to its first-year students as part of their four-year degree.  The presenters engaged in a research project to examine the effectiveness of the mentor/apprentice model of Indigenous language transmission (Hinton, 2001) for re-connecting Métis/Michif to their language. This presentation will provide an overview the creation and implementation of the Michif Language Immersion Camp, and the Indigenous research methods used to gather data.

Religion is such a strong part of what it means to be Métis. What does it mean to be Métis and to be religious? Does it mean being a “good Catholic”? Does it mean practicing traditional Native spirituality? Does it mean a bit of both; or is it neither? This presentation will look at the issues that surround the definition of religion, and see where relations and relationality fit into our ways of being and knowing the world. This presentation seeks to make space and affirm Métis experiences of religion. 

Everyone has a story, and every Métis person seems to have a lot more than one!  This is probably why we all seem to have great storytellers in our families, and why some of the finest Métis writers have written memoirs.  This session offers advice and techniques for turning your own stories into a memoir.  What audience do you seek to reach? How should you research your own life-story, and how “true” does the finished memoir have to be?  What are some techniques for keeping readers engaged?  What are the memoir writer’s responsibilities toward family and community members?


A hands on workshop where you will be taught to bead by the two authors of the best-selling GDI resource book, wâpikwaniy: A Beginner’s Guide to Métis Floral Beadwork. Facilitate by Gregory Scofield and Amy Briley, participants will learn the traditional style of Métis floral beadwork use by our ancestors in the making and adorning clothing for their families and for trade. All materials will be provided.

In this session you will be beading on traditional tanned moose hide and attaching it to a popsocket! Learn the basics of beading, enjoy some laughs and go home with a popsocket!

Fiddle Basics workshop – fiddles provided.  Come try it out – learn how to hold the instrument, how to bow, how to place your fingers – this session will be a fun way to learn some of the very basics.

What is Métis art? I have called myself a Métis artist with confidence for only about twenty years. I’m fifty-seven. Before that, I just considered myself an artist. I saw art as an oasis, separate from the routine world. In art school, I was encouraged to see art as self-directed creative activity unburdened by social responsibilities. However, by my mid-30s I grew restless with aesthetic free-play. I wanted my work to have meaning and use beyond myself, to have an audience other than the art crowd. I spent years building my skills, now I wanted to deploy them in a meaningful way by engaging my Métis identity and community. This essay, memoir really, is a brief account of how I became a Métis artist.

The Apprenticeship with GDI Training and Employment Red River Cart Session highlights the GDI Indigenous Apprenticeship Project by constructing a red river cart. This session gives the participants an opportunity to build their own 1/26th scale red river cart. George will provide step by step instruction and assistance when building the carts. The session includes the kit to build the red river cart and all tools and items needed will be provided at the session. Each participant will keep their red river cart model as a souvenir from the GDI 40th Anniversary Celebrating Métis Culture and Education Conference.

Our presentation shares how Metis women’s kitchen table methodology inspired a community-engaged Michif language project called Lii Kaarts en Michif. We will talk about how this St. Louis-specific project helped us connect to our Elders, place, people, stories, language, and heart. In addition, we will also share how it inspires our teaching and research practices and every-day life.

Jesse will share his definition of Indigenous homelessness, a definition which is rooted in the context of inter-generational trauma, loss of culture and disconnection from home.

In this session, Jess Lee will share the songs he wrote which are on his latest recording made with the Gabriel Dumont Institute. Karon Shmon will provide background information on each song’s subject. The songs share various aspects of Métis history and culture.

This session explores the Métis origins of the Canadian policy of the Sixties Scoop. Based on Dr. Stevenson’s PhD research and forthcoming book, Intimate Integration: A History of the Sixties Scoop and Colonization of Indigenous Kinship, she will demonstrate how the Green Lake Children’s Shelter, the removal policies of the CCF government and the Adopt Indian and Métis Program are all connected.  This research is based, in part, on the archival materials, interviews and photos that have been collected by GDI. This panel will examine the policies that formed the foundation of the Sixties Scoop through a Métis historical lens.

Gabriel Dumont Institue

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

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