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Newcomers experience Canadian, Métis culture


Newcomers to Sault Ste. Marie received a crash course in Canadian and Métis culture this weekend.

A tour held by the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Lake Superior Watershed brought 42 immigrants or newcomers throughout historically significant areas of the city.

Aishwarya Jariwala is from India has lived in the Sault for three years now.

She told CTV News she is glad she took the opportunity to learn more about its past.

"These tours and activities are also like a great way to know about all of those other things that you usually don't find in the books,” Jariwala said.

“Connect with people, with that culture, and also fun."

Guides explained the many monuments along Huron Street, into the Canal District, and finally to the Canada Parks docks.

That's where each group of 14 had the chance of trying an activity synonymous with Métis people: canoeing.

For many, it was their first time on a canoe.

Marlene Henry-Smith, originally from Jamaica, was one of those people.

"I've lived here for a little while and I've never had the opportunity to do this,” said Henry-Smith.

“When it came up I said 'Yes, let me do it.' It was invigorating, I felt peace with the water."

Participants worked together to guide the canoe around the St. Mary's River, seeing the rapids first hand, and even went through the Soo Locks.

Six-year-old Alisha Pawar said the trek "was actually a really good ride, it was fun," adding that her favourite part was the ducks they encountered on the water.

Jariwala said she enjoyed the many hands on the canoe and how the other paddlers allowed for the time to relax and reflect while on the water.

"Experiencing the flow of the water, the grand rapids that the people in the past, the metis people actually went through that route, and what their experiences might have been, to kind of relate to that," she said.

Mary Ogenyi helped organize the tour as the coordinator for the City of Sault Ste. Marie's Local Immigration Partnership.

Ogenyi said she enjoyed the experience and believes this type of activity can lead to the betterment of the community.

"Learning about the monuments and history attached to this place also helping facilitate truth and reconciliation and the long-term goal between Indigenous and settlers,” she said.

“It’s important for newcomers to not just read about it, but have this experiential connection with the land, the water, know the history."

Ogenyi said that there are many other activities planned to teach newcomers about Canadian history and culture and that they plan to do Métis tours again with groups in the future.

For many participating in the cultural and historical tour it was their first time in a canoe. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario) Top Stories

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