The noise is deafening and nobody minds. What started as a traditional Métis dance called “Drops of Brandy” has morphed into dozens of elementary students twirling arm-in-arm and jigging wildly to live fiddle and guitar music. It’s a gleeful melee in the true spirit of Moochigan.
Moochigan, according to organizer and Métis member Jorin Gaudet, is a Métis word which describes a kitchen party, a gathering where food is shared, music is played, and people come together to dance and celebrate. Gaudet, who originally hales from the Métis community of Paddle Prairie in Northern Alberta, said he came up with the idea “to bring Métis culture to life” within his school. Gaudet is a Grade 6 teacher at Our Lady of Assumption (OLA) School of Holy Spirit Catholic School Division in Lethbridge. With collaboration from his friends, and support from a raft of groups and organizations, Gaudet planned an afternoon of activities for the 150 students of OLA.
Students clearly enjoyed the various activities but the whole event was intended for a larger purpose. Principal Calder explained that the school is committed to furthering Truth and Reconciliation principles by finding creative ways to learn about First Nations and Métis peoples. This goal is echoed by the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops in their pastoral letter to the Métis “That We May Walk Together”. In it the CCCB pledges to facilitate opportunities to make Métis history known. “You have spoken clearly of the need to tell your stories, to make your history, spiritual, and cultural traditions more widely known,” the document says. It then goes on to invite Catholic educational institutions, seminaries and religious houses to partner in this endeavor.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers