The Métis are Canada’s first children. From the 1600s to late 1800s, European fur traders joined with Aboriginal women. Their mixed blood children were able to function in both Aboriginal and European societies. They adapted European technologies to the wilderness, through innovations such as Red River Carts and York Boats, making it possible to transport large volumes of goods. As this group increased in number and married amongst themselves, they developed a new culture, neither European nor Indian, but a fusion of the two – the Métis. By the mid 1800s, Métis villages appeared around fur trade posts. Efforts by Scottish settlers to restrict Métis hunting and trading practices led to Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816 where the victorious Métis led by Cuthbert Grant, Jr. first unfurled the flag of the Métis Nation. Today Métis people can be found in all walks of life. This brochure celebrates the Métis influences in Alberta.
There are 300,000 Métis people in Canada and Alberta has the single largest provincial population with 67,000 – over 32,000 of whom are represented by the Métis Nation of Alberta. The creation of eight Métis Settlements in Alberta gives its citizens a land base that no other Métis group in Canada enjoys. They were created with the Métis Population Betterment Act of 1938. Approximately 4,800 Métis live on Settlements. Today, the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Métis people are crucial elements of the vision to build a stronger Aboriginal product.
Métis pride resonated along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River this past summer as five voyageur canoes led by Métis youth retraced a section of the historic fur-trading route from Fort Edmonton to Victoria Settlement. The three-day Métis Crossing Centennial Voyage led by youth, community leaders, elders and friends culminated in a joyful landing at Métis Crossing. They were joined by the Centennial Wagon Trek – some of whom had traveled over 60 days from Manitoba to join this historic gathering. A throng of over 2,500 people welcomed the voyageurs and trekkers with jubilant cheers.
Métis Crossing will open for its first season on May 20, 2006. Currently, the site features an historic village with traditional hands-on activities and crafts, restored farm buildings with interpretation, nature trails, and an RV Campground. On August 25 and 26, 2006, the riverbanks will again come to life with Métis fiddle music and jigging as Métis Crossing celebrates its second annual Métis Crossing Voyage – 2006. This year’s event will focus specifically on the site with a tradeshow, entertainment, arts and crafts and interactive cultural activities.
Future expansions call for a lodge and log cabins, elders training and retreat centre, year round interpretive building, plus a tree canopy walk to see life from a different point of view. Watch them grow!