GROUP JIG Last years Metis Kitchen Party was a huge success, with 80 or so people turning out to learn about and celebrate Metis culture, and to enjoy free food, music and jig lessons.File photo by Breanne Massey

By James Rose

Special to The Pioneer

Returning after a very successful first year is the Columbia Valley Metis Associations Metis Kitchen Party and Traditional Dinner on Wednesday, March 8th. Taking place in the David Thompson Secondary School cafeteria area, the free event for the entire community gets underway at 5 p.m. and features live music from Metis fiddle musicians JJ Guy and Gordon Stobbe.

We work very closely on this event with DTSS Aboriginal support workers Jocelyn Booth and Tracy Simpson to put on a great event, said the associations president Deb Fisher. DTSS students are making up a traditional Metis stew and bannock for the food component and the evening is all about sharing and raising awareness about the Metis culture. Along with the free food, music, and dancing, we will have artifacts for people to look at and opportunities for people to ask questions.

Last year, the event organizers were surprised by how many people showed up.

We didnt expect to have around 80 people come, but we were well-prepared to handle all of the people, recalled Ms. Fisher. For this year, we are hoping to meet or exceed last years numbers. It was a really fun and informative evening with people from all over coming.

One couple in particular heard about the event on the radio while driving en route back to their home in the United States.

They knew nothing of Metis culture but still decided to make a night of it, and stayed the entire time dancing and having a grand ol time, said Ms. Fisher. And that is what the night is all about, a celebration of Metis culture for everybody!

This year, the organizers are helping to support Eileen Madson Primarys Little Jiggers a group of Grade 2 and 3 students who have been working with the schools Aboriginal support worker. Although the night is not a fundraiser per se, we will be accepting donations to support the Little Jiggers in hopes to be able to purchase for the group Metis-style ribbon shirts, skirts and moccasins by the end of the year, said Ms. Fisher.

Funding for the event comes from the Metis Nation of B.C. (which in turn receives funding from the federal government). To receive the funding, the Columbia Valley Metis Association had to apply for a grant. Amy Cross, a director of the Rocky Mountain Metis Association based in Cranbrook, helped the local association fill out the grant application.

Amy is very proficient when it comes to applying for government grants and without her help this likely would not have been possible, said Ms. Fisher. It was a huge process to receive the funding that enabled us to bring in talented Metis musicians from outside the valley for a great show.

All told, Ms. Fisher hopes that events like these help with the overall level of awareness and appreciation for Metis culture in the valley. For more information, visit the Columbia Valley Metis Associations Facebook page. Those wanting to attend are encouraged to RSVP to either Ms. Booth at 250-342-9213 (ext. 3903) or [email protected]; or Ms. Fisher at [email protected] or 250-688-5096.