Archives for Past Events

2019 Past Events

The Song-Bird and the Healing Waters

On June 12, 2019 the Métis Women’s Circle presented a Métis Music at Hess Street School. It was performed by Grades 5 to 8 students. With appreciation for funding from Hamilton Community Foundation.

Hamilton Spectator – Letter to the Editor, June 2019

“Thank you for opening my mind and heart
RE: Hess Street School
On June 12 from 2 to 3 p.m., in an overheated stuffed gymnasium at Hess Street Public School, I was swept up in a magical and rejuvenating work of art. These primary school students, led by their music teacher, Denise Montgomery — also the director and writer of this original play based on the traditional Indigenous story and book ‘The Song-Bird and The Healing Waters’ — wove a tale about patience, coexistence, and recovery.
The play incorporated many forms of visual art, soundscapes recorded in nature, drumming and other instrumental and vocal music, all created in collaboration with the Métis Women’s Circle and Hess Street Public School students and teachers, and sponsored by the Hamilton Community Foundation. The students, many of whom have come from far away before landing in this Hamilton gymnasium, showed us that people and the world can change and grow if we are able to listen to one another and to the natural world.
More of Hamilton, Ontario and Canada need to see this and to learn the lessons this story and Hess Street Public School are teaching. This could have been a glimpse into what truth and reconciliation could look like and how we might heal some of our open wounds in Canada, Hamilton-style. Thank you, Hess Street Public School, for opening your doors and my mind and heart.”
Catharine Munn, Hamilton

Anishnaabe Bingo Spring Sessions – huge success!

A language program offered through the game of Bingo on Friday Evenings in May.  We used words and activities associated with each of the four seasons interpreted into the Oji-Cree language.  What fun learning together!!  A family event, participants of all ages enjoyed Monday evenings together at the Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton and won great prizes for their efforts.  

2018 Past Events

Music Makers Flyer ImageMusic Makers – The Power of Indigenous Music

Funded by New Horizons For Seniors, this two-part event was held in the fall of 2018 and celebrated Indigenous music which is by its nature participatory; it lends itself to socialization.
Songs come from the natural world and from dreams, often expressing a deep appreciation for life and sustenance.

Rhythms & Rattles: A look at Indigenous Music

This concert at The Gathering Place by the Grand (Oshweken – Six Nations in Ontario) in October featured the performers Rene Meshake, Jani Lauzon and Sadie Buck (Storyweaver). The audience was invited to a meet and greet after the concert to speak with the performers. Refreshments were served.

Shaking The Rattle: Traditions and Rattle Making

Over the course of two days, Rattle Maker Adam Skye lead participants in a Rattle Circle of Rythmic Song. A buffet lunch was served. This event was held at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario in November.

Anishnaabe Bingo for all seasons – huge success!

A 16 week language program offered through the game of Bingo.  We used words and activities associated with each of the four seasons interpreted into the Oji-Cree language.  What fun learning together!!  A family event, participants of all ages enjoyed Monday evenings together at the Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton and won great prizes for their efforts.  Here are examples of the Bingo cards.

Our Elder Honoured

Elize Hartley was honoured in July by the Hamilton Legal Clinic for her work serving on the Board of Directors.  The Blanket Dance took place at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Aboriginal Contributions to Aldershot Farm Economy
Meet & Greet

On November 21 of 2018 the Métis Women’s Circle hosted a public reading at East Plains United Church in Burlington, Ontario.

The story told was of a 1947 era Aldershot Farm woman by award-winning storyteller and musician Pauline Grondin, as she reminisced about life on the farm with an emphasis on the Native farm workers of the day.

Baskets and Berries

They Come From the Mountains

Why The Michif Love Horses

“Jeremy grew very fond of the old man and the horse and learned so much from both of them. He quickly learned that a horse is a very curious and social being. He learned that if approached with haste and anger, Horse would mirror these emotions and respond in the same way.
“Horse always knew if Jeremy was in a bad mood. But, if approached with patience and kindness, Horse did his best to show respect, although cautiously at first, with a flick of his tail and a shake of his head.
“And, he learned that the old man had led a very full and interesting life and was generous and caring in sharing his teachings. Now he had something the other kids at school did not.

Michif Translations by Norman Fleury. Story concept by Lynn Nicholson and Carole Leclair. Paintings by Jocelyn Antone.

With appreciation for funding from the Government of Canada Aboriginal Languages Initiative Program

This book is currently available.

To read flip book online, CLICK HERE!

2016 Past Events

Series: Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies

Seminars in Creativity & Well-Being for SeniorsCoyote and the Laughing Butterlies

Indigenous storytelling offers us different ways to look at the world around us. Coyote, an ancient mythological being, is a cunning trickster who can be helpful or harmful, but always very creative! Butterflies are not only admired for their beauty but for their power of metamorphosis and flight. In this story, humans are reminded to laugh at our weaknesses and find the humour in our lives. Hopefully, these workshops will help you to achieve just that!

“Spirit of Creativity”
Bus Trip to Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

Demonstration of The Butterfly Dance by Native dancer Jessa Laight. Lunch in the Café followed by tour of Butterfly Conservatory. Jessa can be contacted at 905 719 3479.

“Even today butterflies remember the trick that was played on Coyote. They flutter high and low, to and fro, laughing too hard to fly straight…”

“Spirit of Interpretive Art”
Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington

Presentation of the Ojibwe Butterfly Story by artist Rene Meshake with artistic creation & lunch in the Café Annex. Rene Meshake led an animated workshop in self-expression after his Anishinaabe story of the stones that turned to butterflies.

“Spirit of Meditation”
Afternoon Workshop November 18

Afternoon workshop with aromatherapy and reiki for seniors.
Leader – Peggy Logan from Six Nations
Tea & Refreshments

“Spirit of Meditation”
Afternoon Workshop December 9

Afternoon workshop with aromatherapy and reiki for seniors.
Leader – Peggy Logan from Six Nations
Tea & Refreshments

2014 Past Events

Moon Ceremony

On Saturday, July 12th, 2014, the Métis Women’s Circle hosted a Moon Ceremony at the Jerseyville Stables in Ancaster, ON.

We considered this “super moon”, the seventh moon in creation, as a special gift for our celebration of the full moon ceremony. Approximately fifteen women and their daughters joined in the sharing circle. Despite a cloudy beginning, Grandmother Moon showed with bright, shining light.

Against a rustic, rural background the women were led by Lana General and Val King in this important ritual for rejuvenation. Val shared her Anishinaabe teachings about the 13 moons and their representation on Turtle’s back and women’s medicine. Prayers and tobacco were offered to Creator for those near and dear who were incapacitated or in need of support.
moon ceremony imageThe water each woman brought was instilled with the power of the moonlight to be used for healing over the coming month. The women shared berries, songs, tears, and uplifted each other.

For some, this was their first time experiencing the ritual. Horses gathered in the surrounding field to watch the women circle the bonfire in song. These were the same horses who guided our youth in the Horse Spirit programs.

Women, Horses and Art

Horse Spirit Logo2014 welcomed a new program – Women, Horses & Art with support from Heritage Canada – Aboriginal women and their daughters will experience Equine Assisted Learning in personal development with this experience expressed through the creation of an original artistic art form by each participant.

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Foxcroft Stables
RBG Art Class
RBG Finished Art

2013 Past Events

Frances Cordero de Bolanos

This piece was completed by Frances Cordero de Bolanos, as a component of a combined Arts and Art History Degree at University of Toronto and Sheridan College.
“Metis filmmaker Christine Welsh’s film, Finding Dawn (NFB) explores the fate of one of many indigenous women who have been murdered somewhere along the infamous Highway of Tears, in northern British Columbia. De Bolanos’s sculpture explores the universal reality of the oppression of women, the missing and murdered mothers, daughters, sisters and neices of the world. De Bolanos’s sculpture evokes this deliberate erasure as physical, emotional and spiritual. Women’s bodies and spirits have been abandoned, dismembered, cut off from the saving grace of family, community and existence. Some bodies are hidden, left to return to the earth, to ‘melt’ silently as de Bolanos illustrates in her work. Other murdered women’s bodies are overtly displayed. De Bolanos shows them as devoid of the colors of life, as pale imitations of their humanity. De Bolanos’s sculpture is a forceful and deeply disturbing reminder of the fate of the vulnerable and a caution to those of us who would minimize or marginalize this truth. It is a plea for compassion, and a call for an inner resolve to protect and honor the ‘heartbeat of our nations,’our women and girls,” by Carole Leclair in response to the artist’s work.

These pieces were completed by Frances Cordero de Bolanos, as a component of a combined Arts and Art History Degree at University of Toronto and Sheridan College. The sculptures reflect on missing and murdered women.

Blankets on the Floor

On Friday, October 25th, 2013, the Métis Women’s Circle presented ‘Blankets on the Floor’ with Norman Fleury, Métis Elder from Manitoba. “For many days and nights the people sang songs, had feasts, told stories…”  Norman Fleury related Metis stories from his youth interspersed with the Michif language. Approximately 100 persons attended this event, many of whom had never heard the Michif language spoken. Anne Lederman complemented Norman’s stories with traditional Metis music. Presented with funding from New Horizons for Seniors.

Norman Fleury related Métis stories from his youth interspersed with the Michif language. Approximately 100 persons attended this event, many of whom had never heard the Michif language spoken. Anne Lederman complemented Norman’s stories with traditional Métis music.

Horse Spirit Halton

Horse Spirit Logo 2013Students in the Halton Horses program worked with both Percherons and miniature horses in their equine assisted learning classes. The program was sponsored by Halton Region Police Service in Milton and coordinated by the Métis Women’s Circle.

racing for literacy logoRacing for Literacy

Racing for Literacy was a program designed specifically for students in the Transportation Course at Sir John A MacDonald Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario. Students were provided with auto racing literature, met race car drivers, race track owners and learned about the various racing genres, including dirt track racing divisions and Nascar racing.

Bear Spirit Parfleche Communication Bag

Presentation of Bear Spirit parfleche communication bags for information sharing at Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School. With Metis Elder Rene Meshake speaking. Plus Elder Elize Hartley, Carol LeClair and traditional Métis singing and drumming.

2012 Past Events

sub_past_photo3_beadingsub_past_photo2_beadingsub_past_photo1_beadingBeading Workshops with Nathalie Bertin

Several of the Women’s Circle and their friends joined together on a summer afternoon to enjoy beading creations with Nathalie Bertin. Nathalie is an accomplished Métis artist. She shared her life stories with us as she taught our women about the history and art of traditional Métis beading. Please view Nathalie’s original works at:




Horse Spirit & Young Men 2012

During the 2012/13 winter/spring semester at Sir John A Macdonald High School, the Métis Women’s Circle offered young Aboriginal men the opportunity to earn high school credits through experiencing equine assisted learning.

Students were made familiar with the historical relationship between Aboriginals and horses. The spirit of the horse was experienced in a country setting under the supervision of a certified equine assisted learning instructor. Students worked with horses both individually and in small group work where they learned acceptance and respect, teamwork, and handling skills.

Exercises were designed to teach students those skills to apply in personal situations addressing self-esteem, counter bullying techniques, peer pressure, and dealing with anger. Aboriginal culture carriers augmented the program by introducing land teachings and their personal working experiences centred on horse culture.

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Sister to Sister II posterSister to Sister Young Women Gathering II

Keynote Speakers: Dr. Pamela Palmater, Dr. Robin Bourgeois

The Métis Women’s Circle again hosted this special assembly to address contemporary issues faced by high school female students. This project was funded by Canadian Heritage, Aboriginal Women’s Programming.



Trout Lilies & Spring Peepers

Trout Lilies and Spring PeepersCapturing Elders’ Eco Stories – Whatever happened to the natural fields and river streams where you played as a child? Ever wonder about those old-fashioned flowers and herbs your grandmother grew? Will your grandchildren get to enjoy the same wonderment of wide open spaces and all the species hiding there?

The Métis Women’s Circle compiled memories of the landscape in story form, poetry, photography, painting and drawing in order to share our “eco” stories, those cherished memories of youth. A number of Aboriginal older persons joined us in this endeavour through small workshops, gathering walks, visits to botanical centres and story sharing. Project funded by New Horizons For Seniors. The finished booklet is available through our Métis Market (donations gratefully accepted).

2011 Past Events

Gookum’s Purse

How mGookum's Purse Imageuch do you know about Canada’s residential schools – the government’s forceful removal of Aboriginal children from their families? The Métis Women’s Circle commissioned an original script be written to raise awareness of these unspoken histories. The result was Gookum’s Purse.
In the stage production, Native Arts students worked with Elders to blend traditional storytelling with contemporary urban teen life. New Horizons for Seniors and the Trillium Foundation funded the performance depicting the story of one Anishinaabe girl’s life journey suffering abuse and hardships in these church run facilities.

The audience was enveloped in the sounds of aboriginal drums, rattles, and voices from nature, as the lead character is taken from her family and sent to a prairie residential school. Later, with her own small children in tow, she makes her home in Hamilton where she grows into an old “Gookum”, a grandmother who reclaims her traditional culture and shares her wisdom and teachings with local teenagers in Gage Park.

Along witGookum Poster Thumbnailh offering an authentic historical perspective, the play served as a showcase for students’ talents and skills. Youth worked tirelessly to rehearse new drum songs. They not only gained acting experience, but more importantly learned to build community in learning and working together.

Audience members found the play moving and visually beautiful in soundscape and lighting. They expressed gratitude for this insight into Aboriginal history, language and culture. One recurring comment was, “I never learned about this in history classes. I didn’t know about this part of Canadian history.” In the traditional way, performances were followed by all staff, crew and their families sharing in a feast to celebrate their new theatrical experience.

2010 Past Events

Urban Thunderbirds Pilot Project

Urban Thunderbirds was a year long mentoring project at Parkview Secondary High School which included a variety of activities aimed at enhancing Aboriginal students’ graduation rates.

Equine Assisted Learning
“In Western Cree and other First Nations cultures, the horse is revered as part of the circle of creation… It possesses an intrinsic spiritual value.” Our newest venture is the introduction of equine assisted learning to the Aboriginal students. Through a certified Aboriginal trainer in EAL, students worked with horses toward achievement in: Self Reflection, Goal Setting and Maintaining, Boundary Setting and Maintaining, Communication and Relationships. This learning style allowed students to acquire land-based teachings. A program of this nature is very important to young Aboriginal men. Elders worked with the youth to demonstrate “rites of passage” and explain traditional and contemporary roles and responsibilities of men.

Our Horse Social – Finale of The Equine Assisted Learning Program
To cap off the Equine Assisted Learning Program, we offered an an evening of fun and information for Nyaweh students and their family & friends, included showing the results of Equine Assisted Learning workshops presented by Aboriginal students, “The Unity Ride”, a spiritual journey for Aboriginal youth presented by Bonnie Freeman, EAL instructor, Aboriginal Social Work, McMaster University, a traditional giveaway and a thank you to the horses.

The Métis Women’s Circle provided reading resources in the Nyaweh room at Parkview to encourage students to read and investigate books. A list of preferred reading materials was submitted by the youth worker and reviewed by the Métis Women’s Circle organizers. Reading resources were aimed at teenage readership with a variety of titles to choose from – novels, comics, legends, and noted Aboriginal authors like Joseph Bruchac. Bruchac has written award winning titles which were purchased for students and as resources for the Nyawen room: “Keepers of the Earth”, “Tell Me a Tale”, “When the Chenoo Howls”, “The Heart of a Chief”, “Pushing Up The Sky”.

Literacy Initiatives & Hockey Fun
Through initiation by the Métis Women’s Circle, the Bulldogs suggested further ideas for literacy incentives for students including signed memorabilia, motivational speakers, and tickets for Bulldogs games in the future. At a home game on January 15, 2010, Aboriginal students met with Bulldogs President, Glenn Stanford, a former high school teacher from the east coast of Canada who recognizes well the problems and barriers at Parkview. He was very helpful in suggesting strategies to improve literacy, attendance, and other motivational incentives for Aboriginal students. After the game, students and their families met with Rochester American owner, Ted Nolan, Aboriginal entrepreneur. Parents expressed their appreciation for a wholesome family activity which, they stated, would not have been within their reach without the assistance of the program.

Parkview Talent Show
Parkview’s Principal, Paul Beattie, requested a specific Aboriginal component to their 2009 talent show and sought our assistance in this regard. The Métis Women’s Circle hired a professional Anishnaabe drama coach to instruct students on dance and choreography as well as prop making techniques. The drama coach taught female students the “Butterfly Dance” along with the storytelling and history of this dance to present at the Talent Show. Students were provided with materials and embellishments to make their own dance shawls which they personalized with Aboriginal designs and animal totems. Students were allowed to keep their shawls as a remembrance of their work on the talent show.

Feasts & Fun
Students and their families celebrated students’ achievements at feasts to mark special times of the year and the progress of our projects. Members of local Aboriginal agencies and school personnel joined in the celebrations. Students requested more of these events to share their school life with their families.


girl drawingSister to Sister Young Women Gathering

The Métis Women’s Circle was pleased to host this special assembly to address contemporary issues faced by high school female students. The assembly took place in November 2010 with facilitation by social workers from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.