New Métis citizens to be sashed on November 26

Columbia Valley Métis Association to hold its AGM and election that same day

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On November 26 the Columbia Valley Métis Association (CVMA) will have much to celebrate as they sash their new Métis citizens at a community gathering, for the first time since the pandemic. The sashing will begin at 4 p.m. at the Lions Hall in Invermere where all new Métis citizens can choose to have this honour bestowed privately or publicly.

“We expect from 4 to 5 p.m. we will be sashing all our new Métis citizens, or those who have not received a Métis sash already, and welcome them to the community,” said CVMA president, Monica Fisher.

Canada celebrates Métis Week from Nov. 14 -18. This annual weeklong event, planned by the Métis Nation of Alberta, has been recognized nationally for over a decade. It commemorates Métis leader, Louis Riel, and reveres and honours the rich and beautiful culture of Métis people across the country.

“I hope all our citizens recognize the importance our rich Métis history and culture, and our kinship connections,” said Fisher. “As a community there is a real sense of pride, comraderie and friendships here. There is a lot of learning that can happen from each other. My hope is that people feel that they are a part of something bigger, and that it will inspire more to run in elections and partake in more events moving forward.”

With the sashing and welcome to the community, there’ll be Metis music and a family feast provided by Kootenay Coffee Works. As well, there will be CVMA’s annual general meeting (AGM) and election. This will the CVMA’s first in-person AGM in two years; the last two were held virtually due to COVID restrictions. It will include an election for women’s representative, treasurer, vice-president, and president. With the Métis community being centered on governance, Fisher said having a sashing ceremony and their AGM on the same day just seemed right.

“Having a feast and inviting people out to be a part of the community and to start getting more involved as part of a group setting, and then having the democracy of the election with more people involved, was super important to us,” said Fisher. “We want to ensure we have the right people in the right positions, not just on the willingness to put our names forward alone, but because we are elected by the people.”

While some members are happy and hoping to remain in their role, like current CVMA president Monica Fisher, she said a few new hats may be thrown into the ring.

“I’m going to let my name stand, and we’ll see if anyone else puts their name forward, which we always welcome and encourage,” said Fisher.

If Fisher is elected as CVMA president for another term, she already has a few goals in mind, including getting their new community navigator hire more established within the community. Another primary focus for her will be to create different committees for housing and two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ community members and to have more youth events and involvement going forward.

“My hope is to survey citizens to find out what their biggest needs are and then focus our attention that way,” said Fisher. “With me as the leader in this community currently, my role is to listen to what my citizen’s needs are, and then assist in finding solutions and programs for it.”

Chadd Cawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer