By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

A recent meeting of the Columbia Valley Métis Association (CVMA) demonstrated the importance of the sash to their culture and what that meant for new citizens.

The event was the annual general meeting and ‘kitchen party’ in Wilmer Community Hall on November 26.

“I want to say that there was so much love for community and belonging,” said Kelsey Prichard, the community coordinator of the CVMA. 

Forty people attended the AGM and kitchen party, which is a traditional Métis celebration.

“Our people have been celebrating this way for hundreds of years. It’s like a pass-down tradition. It’s just a way for everybody in the community to get together, visit, share stories, and share tradition,” she said. 

Prichard explained they did a sashing ceremony with Debra Fisher, the Regional Director of Métis Nation BC (Region 4). Fisher sashed new Métis citizens during the celebration. She said that sashing is significant for Métis people for recognizing and identifying certain families — different families have different colours in their sash.

Prichard described the sashing of the new citizens as very emotional. 

“It hasn’t been acceptable to be openly Indigenous. A lot of Métis people have had to hide their heritage in the past. This time, with the citizens that were sashed, I think that was what brought up a lot of the emotions. It’s like they were the first generation of their family being accepted.”

After the sashing, Métis Bev, an elder, shared traditional knowledge stories, where the kids dressed up in costumes and acted out historical scenes. They had dinner and danced at the end of the party. 

“The most fun part was learning the jigging and the dances. Seeing everybody up and the older folks dancing with the younger folks was my favourite part,” said Prichard. “I hope we can reach as many families and people as possible, to help them connect with their culture. It is life-saving. Some people can feel lost without cultural identity. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about it, you can still welcome and support everyone.”