Newcomers to the Sault are enjoying a new eco-tourism venture that gives them the chance to learn about Métis peoples and their historic culture in the area.
A collaboration between the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy sparked the creation of Métis Tours, which invites locals on walking and paddling tours throughout the city’s downtown and Canal District.
Joanie McGuffin, executive director for Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy, says they’re incredibly excited about the project, which also had support from the City of Sault Ste Marie and the Local Immigration Partnership.
“We always knew an Indigenous partnership was a really beautiful way to go where we would have that interpretive guided experience from the cultural standpoint of Indigenous peoples,” she says. “The Métis Nation here have a fantastic and beautiful cultural story.”
Alongside her husband Gary and several other guides, McGuffin invited SooToday on Saturday’s tour, which began at the Métis Centre on John Street and wrapped up on the waterfront.
“It's been a beautiful day,” McGuffin says. “I tell the participants that they’ll know more about a part of this city than most people around here know.”
“When we’re out on the water, we go out to the rapids to learn about the whitefish, we have some cedar tea, we talk about the Métis river lots, the community life along the river, and we go to Fort Creek, which is hidden under the Metis Centre, then it appears again down near the mall.”
LIP's goal for organizing the paddling and walking tour is to foster safe spaces for dialogue and relationship-building between newcomers and Indigenous peoples and to promote cross-cultural learning, said Coordinator of the Local Immigration Partnership Mary Ogenyi in an email. As newcomers and settlers on Turtle Island, it is important to recognize Indigenous Peoples and their Traditional Lands and cultural practices are essential acts of reconciliation and ways to honour Indigenous Peoples. We hope to have ongoing events like this for newcomers, she added.
The Métis Tours will run until Thanksgiving.
Two options for tours are available: a walking tour and a tour that combines walking and paddling in either a 36-foot or 26-foot canoe. Tours will generally take about two hours to complete.
More information on bookings and rates can be found on the Métis Tours website.
– with files from James Hopkin