Desirée Orvis

June 14, 2022

High school athlete keeps busy by giving back to her community

High school graduate Desirée Orvis plans to attend college to obtain her Health Care Aide Certificate and find employment in that field.

With the school year winding down and summer just around the corner, graduation season is here, and Métis graduates are eager to cross the stage in their cap and gown. For the month of June, we're featuring Red River Métis graduates who've made a difference in their communities while excelling in their studies.

High school graduate Desirée Orvis was taught from an early age to fully embrace her Métis culture through music. Influenced by listening to her grandfather and his late brother's musical stylings through the fiddle and guitar, respectively, Orvis learned to sing, play guitar and fiddle, and jig.

"Watching them bring joy and happiness to everyone around them as they played made me realize how important it is to carry on our culture and traditions," she said. "My grandma helped me learn how to jig. Then, when I was about six years old, I was jigging in my grandpa's square dance group called Eldon's Steppers, being at least two feet shorter than the other square dancers."

The proud Métis Youth lives along the lake in Manitoba House, also known as Kinosota. Orvis is active in her community and with the Manitoba Métis Federation, where she serves as Secretary/Treasurer on the Northwest Youth Advisory Committee.

"My advice to other Métis Youth interested in getting involved in their community is to just jump right in," the Métis Youth leader said. "If you are ever nervous about something, the best thing to remember is that everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone is always willing to help in one way or another!"

Orvis has gotten as much out of her community service as she's given back. The Northwest Métis Council gave her the opportunity to teach jigging lessons to Youth in her community, and offered her fiddle lessons before the pandemic.

"The Northwest Métis Council has supported me by providing me with summer student employment, (as well as) allowing me to show off my talent at many different events," she added.

Earlier this year, Orvis was a member of the Red River Métis delegation that travelled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. She spoke on behalf of Métis Youth, as well as her grandmother, a day school survivor, and her great-grandmother, a residential school survivor, to represent their experiences and pain with His Holiness while highlighting the strength and resilience of the women in her family.

"It was unbelievable at first; I was overwhelmed, and mind blown," Orvis said of the experience. "It was an opportunity I knew I could not pass up. I felt proud to be able to speak on behalf of my grandmother and great-grandmother - two strong and well-respected, hard-working women in my life that I look up to. It was a privilege to be there, and it is not every day that someone gets to speak to the Pope."

Earlier this year, Orvis (far left) was selected to the Red River Métis delegation that travelled to Rome
to meet with Pope Francis.

In addition to her role as a Métis Youth leader, Orvis keeps busy by playing many sports.

"In high school, I played soccer, basketball, badminton, volleyball, baseball, and a little bit of track and field," she said. "My favourite sport to play is volleyball, and I hope to continue playing it after school too, even if it is just for fun."

Beyond participating in school sports, Orvis competed in open volleyball, helped run events during track and field days for the Junior High students at her school, fishes, and loves horseback riding.

"I love that I always have a smile on my face (when I'm riding)," she said. "It is very rare to see me on the back of a horse not smiling. It makes me feel happy and helps me relax and let loose."

Living in a tight-knit Métis community, Orvis values spending time with friends and family. She credits her community for helping her succeed throughout high school.

"I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches, and teachers for their support throughout high school in all different aspects, especially my auntie Shawna for being one of my biggest support systems," she said.

After graduation, Orvis plans to attend college to obtain her Health Care Aide Certificate and find employment in that field, while staying close to her home community long-term.

"I would not mind moving away from home for a little while to experience a new lifestyle," she said, "but my dream is to move back around my hometown and build up a ranch of my own where I can have my horses, dogs, maybe some goats, and be around my family and community."


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