By Clint Buehler
The iconic theme of the Metis Nation anthem’s “Proud to be Metis” is perfectly personified in the attitude and achievements of Chelsea Lavallee.
The 17-year-old Metis dancer from St. Ambroise, Manitoba—a tiny Metis community of 170 on the southest tim of Lake Manitoba—has packed an incredible portfolio of achievements into her young life, and not just with her impressive accomplishments as a Metis dancer.
No wonder she’s the recipient of the 2009 National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation’s Special Youth Award, which includes a $5,000 scholarship.
As David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) noted in his support for Chelsea’s nomination, “Chelsea is an exceptional role model , not only for Metis and Aboriginal youth, but to the whole Metis Nation.
“She has a passion and drive that is hard to find, and through her personal efforts she has been successful in sharing our Metis culture with her peers and with numerous people of all ages throughout the province of Manitoba.
“At the young age of 15, she unselfishly volunteered more than 100 hours of her time to numerous causes such as the Christmas Cheer Board. The Southwest Region MMF Youth Network, and her school’s Teen Against Drinking and Driving organization,” while managing to consistently making the honour role at school in the neighbouring community of St. Laurent.
Also in 2005 she gained the title of Miss Teen Manitoba Metis.
Chelsea received the 2006 National Metis Youth Model Award in the “M Leaders” category, and was also honoured by the National Aboriginal Health Organization as a recipient of the 2006-2007 National Aboriginal Role Model Award.
In 2006, Chelsea was one of four Manitoba Metis youth selected by MMF president Chartrand to present her life story to the 100-plus youth delegates in attendance at the 38th MMF Annual General Assembly.
In 2007, she received the “Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award” in the “Cultural Female” category, the first Metis selected in that category for an award that had traditionally gone to First Nations youth in the 15-year history of the award.
The foundation for Chelsea’s dedication to the performance and preservation of Metis culture has been through her involvement and performances with the St. Ambroise Youth Steppers Dance Team, and her numerous solo performances.
Youth Steppers is a Metis Dance program facilitated by the St. Ambroise Community Centre and funded by the Southwest Region Manitoba Metis Federation. It has been performing for three years.
Chelsea and the group have promoted Metis culture by performing at dozens of events across Manitoba., in competitions and on television.
She also assisted two older dancers in teaching the Red River Jig and Heel Toe Polka to a group of four to seven-year-olds.
Chelsea caps her impressive resume with a consistent academic achievement averaging in the high eighties.