Julie Lumsden founded the Metis Meeting Place as a response to a gap she noticed in the greater Métis community. As a Métis actor, she felt there was a lack of virtual sharing spaces dedicated to Métis artists and creators.
“I think that it’s something that I would’ve liked to have had,” she says. “I want it to be able to grow into a place where Métis artists from across Canada can find community.”
Known as @metismeetingplace on Instagram, Lumsden shares bite-sized glimpses into Métis history and weekly snippets of Michif language with a mission of reclaiming and connecting through Métis culture.
“It has been a journey of reclamation for myself,” she says.
The Mamawi Project, which launched over a year ago, shares a similar vision as Lumsden’s Metis Meeting Place. Justin Wiebe, a collective member from Saskatchewan, says the project is targeted at building connections between the young Métis community through language, history and snapshots of Métis excellence.
“Ultimately, the vision is one of celebrating and elevating the visions and aspirations of Métis young people across our territories,” Wiebe says.
The word “Mamawi,” meaning “together” in Cree, is exactly what the project aims to bring: a coming together of the Métis community across and beyond the homelands.
According to Wiebe, showcasing Métis successes and narratives has been an important part of The Mamawi Project. He shares an anecdote about members who moved to the United States connecting with their Métis identity through the project to illustrate this.
“They always knew they were Métis, but they were disconnected from our territories. They stumbled upon our page, and those people have now contributed to our work,” he says. Being “virtual is a way for us to maintain connections and rebuild them.”
Both platforms remain virtual for the time being. However, Lumsden sees social media as a positive.
“Being able to be connected during this time is super crucial to not feeling alienated or isolated in your own experiences,” Lumsden says. “Instagram and these cyberspaces have been the most supportive facet of this.” She also emphasizes the power of digital spaces to share cultural knowledge and allow others to feel represented.
“I follow so many amazing Indigenous TikTok creators who are in their full regalia dancing to Top 40 songs,” she says. “I’m just so thrilled that our generation has harnessed the tools we have and used that to propel this knowledge and our culture forward.”
Whether it be in person or online, Wiebe says The Mamawi Project will continue to uplift young Métis voices on their platform.
“I think for the broader public, it’s also about seeing our brilliance, our expertise and our ideas,” Wiebe says. “That’s part of what inspired the project: needing to see more Métis people, and young people in particular, represented.”
Hoping to build a network of Métis creatives, Lumsden shares this sentiment. “I would love to be able to connect people with the talents that we have in the community,” Lumsden says.
Published in Volume 75, Number 08 of The Uniter (November 5, 2020)