by John Copley
(ANNews) – Métis Child and Family Services (MCFS) is just two months away from hosting the organization’s Ninth Annual Métis Spring Festival, a two-day gala and cash prize contest that will once again take place in Servus Place, a popular and spacious venue, located in the City of St. Albert. This year’s festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 – 21, 2017.
“It’s going to be another outstanding event, but we have made a few changes this year,” noted festival organizer, Florence Gaucher, who said that the 2017 event “will include an opportunity for our youth to play an even bigger role than they have in the past.”
Because of budget restraints and a shrinking dollar this year’s event will not include some of the professional acts, musicians and special guest performers who have been attending the event for the past several years. Instead, this year’s festival will include a troupe of Highland Dancers from Red Deer, youth square dancers from Wabasca and performances by well-known performer and dance instructor, Rhea LaBrie.
“We’re also hoping to add yet another component to the program,” explained Gaucher. “Métis Child has recently embarked on a new venture, one that is encouraging youth to join our new square dance group.
MCFS began teaching new square dance classes to a group of youth on March 5. The initial session saw a dozen young would-be dancers show up to participate, and that number is expected to grow in the coming weeks.
“Hopefully,” smiled Gaucher, “we’ll be able to have at least one group ready to participate at this year’s festival. Right now we are offering classes on Sundays at 2 p.m. and anyone interested in participating is welcome to call us at 780-452-6100 or email: [email protected]. You can also check out our website at www.metischild.com for additional information.”
Registration for the jigging and fiddling competitions will get underway at 9 a.m. on May 20, 2017 with competitions beginning at 1 p.m. that same day. The finals will take place at the same time on Sunday. The lack of professional paid entertainers at this year’s venue will enable all competitors to meet the criteria established in 2013 that disallowed professional competitors to compete for prize money and “encouraged our youth, our adult jiggers and our seniors to come out and compete on an equal footing” for the $30,000 in prize money that is up for grabs at this year’s celebration and fiddling/jigging competitions.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on May 20 and closes at noon, but competitors are encouraged to register as early as possible to prevent delays and thus keep the agenda moving along on time.
There are no entry fees for the competitions in any category but there will be a nominal admission charge to help offset costs of hosting the event; the price remains the same as it was last year. The breakdown includes no charge for babies and toddlers; 6 to 12 years of age will pay $7; 13 years and older will pay $10.
The Talent Show for singers that was initiated in 2015 has proven to be a popular undertaking and will continue again at this year’s Métis Spring Festival. The Talent Show will take place at 7:30 on Saturday evening, May 20. There will be various categories within the contest; to learn more contact Florence by email: [email protected] or by phone to: 780-452-6100 Ext 227.
Servus Centre is a large and well-serviced facility and MCFS Executive Director, Don Langford said the location “has proven to be the ideal setting for the Métis Spring Festival ever since we first booked it in 2010. The community has been great supporters of the venue and Servus Place has more than enough room to accommodate the crowds who turn out every year to watch as competitors in every age group vie for prizes and recognition.”
There’s also lots of parking space and the popular 320,000 square foot multipurpose leisure centre houses, among other things, three NHL-sized arenas, an aquatic centre, fitness centre, indoor playground, three gymnasium courts, two field houses, a teaching kitchen, and numerous retail operations and food service outlets.
MCFS works diligently to ensure that they make a positive difference in the lives of both those they serve and in society as a whole. The organization has a proven track record and a lengthy list of objectives that work to ensure that Métis children, women and families have access to services and opportunities that they may not be able to access by themselves. MCFS endeavours to improve the quality and effectiveness of social services to Métis children and families in need and in doing so develops and provides programs that preserve and strengthen Metis families. The organization also promotes the health and well-being of Aboriginal children and families by building capacity in the Métis community through the provision of culturally sensitive and appropriate services and programs. MCFS programs include: Aboriginal Child and Family Support, Family Services, Choices/Choices a Partnership Stay in School and Youth Support Program, Community Support Homes (Foster Care), Family Violence, Protection of Sexually Exploited Children and the Street Outreach Team Assisting Community Resources.
For more information about Métis Child and Family Services see the website at: www.metischild.com. To learn more about Métis Spring Festival 2015 contact Florence at 780-452-6100 or email: [email protected]