“She’s our girl, and we are very, very proud of her,” says Myrt Servatius, president, Kootenay South Métis Society.
Servatius is speaking of Cassidy Caron, a Rossland born and raised woman who is the youngest, and first female to lead the Ottawa-based Métis National Council.
“Cassidy was our youth representative for MNBC (Métis Nation BC), and she did very well with that,” Servatius said. “So we are very proud of her.”
Elected as president to the national council three months ago, Caron’s life has been a whirlwind of national engagements ever since her Sept. 30 historic win.
Seeking a little down time with her mom Anna, sister Tessa, and hometown friends, Caron travelled across the country from her current home just outside of Ottawa to spend Christmastime in Rossland.
With the Omicron variant cancelling community gatherings this holiday season, that meant a much anticipated meet-and-greet with President Caron also had to be called off at the Kootenay South Métis office in Trail.
Instead, just after Christmas, Caron travelled down the icy hill to Trail with her partner Paul Robitaille, and met with Servatius and the Trail Times to chat about her big year ahead.
“I don’t have a personal agenda,” Caron began, referring to her newly-elected role. “I am here to find out what needs to be said at the national level so that we are supporting all of our families. I am working on behalf of all of our citizens,” she shared.
“And there is a lot of work to do, but it’s very exciting.”
One year shy of obtaining her master’s degree in community development, Caron is taking her lived experiences and wealth of knowledge in Indigenous studies, history, and nation building, and putting it to work in her ground-breaking role on the Métis National Council.
“I have three priorities for 2022 that I am really looking forward to getting on track,” she explained. “We have a lot of work to do at the national council office, so that is first, to rebuild the Métis National Council. Bringing it back to what it was originally intended to be, which is a space to bring all of our Métis governments together, to work together.”
Caron says facilitating connections between each Métis governing body, and sharing what is working well within each, no matter the province, is key in creating strong and resilient communities. Successful implementation of Métis housing plans in the prairies or building a strong foundation for early learning and childcare for Métis in B.C., these are just two examples of hands-on work that is creating positive outcomes in their respective communities.
So the time is now to pay the knowledge forward, and she’s here to carry those vital connections from one Métis nation to another, across the homeland.
“We need to be able to support all of our families no matter where they live,” Caron furthered. “My family, for example, originally comes from Saskatchewan. I was born and raised in B.C., and now I live in Ontario.”
This shows how much Métis people move around, she emphasized, adding that no matter where Métis people live, they should be able to be supported by Métis government.
“By rebuilding the national council office, we are making sure we are a space that is available for everybody to come together to move things forward in a good way.”
This leads to her second priority for the coming year, which is to advance Métis nation priorities.
“Again, by bringing all of our voices together at the national council I can then advance our priorities at the national and international levels,” Caron said. “We all need to be working together, and I need to be able to communicate right from our communities up to the national level … to facilitate those voices. And we do that through respecting democracy, by working together.”
Her third pressing matter is far-reaching and will likely be the most challenging.
“The biggest priority for 2022, I think, is to rebuild relationships,” Caron said.
Granted the hindrance with COVID is delaying her travel to meet face-to-face with Métis communities nation-wide, the first-term president remains hopeful that Omicron will settle in the new year and she can once again hit the road.
She’s yearning to get out into the world and meet as many Métis people as she possibly can to get a feel for what is really going on in each community, each nation.
“Everything I am doing as the national council president is community development, working to support our communities and our families, which really is nation building,” Caron said. “And the way to do that is by getting to know one another and by sharing our stories.”