Celebrate Metis Week in Alberta and beyond

by John Copley

(ANNews) – Métis Week 2016 takes place across Canada from Sunday November 13 through Saturday, November 19 with a wide variety of activities being held to celebrate the distinct traditions of Metis people and their culture.

This year’s annual event gets underway in Edmonton at 10 a.m. on Sunday, November 13 with the seventh Annual Louis Riel Commemorative Walk, a six kilometre walk that begins and ends at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, located on Ellerslie Road SW and 126 Street. A commemorative service will take place in the church at noon.

The City of Edmonton, in partnership with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) and its regional council, will honour Métis Week and the Métis people of Edmonton and its surrounding area with a proclamation and a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday, November 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The flag will fly over the city during the week-long celebration of Métis culture.

A press statement from Mayor Don Iveson’s office notes that the “City of Edmonton recognizes the important role that Métis people have played in the founding and development of Edmonton, and the contributions they continue to make to our great city.”

Métis Week, an annual event that celebrates Métis culture and identity, was designed to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Right Honourable Louis Riel, who was executed by the Government of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan on November 16, 1885. Each year on this date a commemorative ceremony is held in his honour. The ceremony “symbolizes the commitment Métis people share in striving for and promoting the visions of Louis Riel and is one of the most important dates on the Métis calendar.”

In addition to recognizing Louis Riel Day on November 16, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) declared the week surrounding November 16 as “Métis Week” and has hosted the annual event for the past eight years. The week is devoted to commemorating the sacrifices of the Métis, who continue to strive toward rights and recognition as a distinct nation. The legacy of Louis Riel, a devoted Métis political leader who sacrificed his life defending the rights of the Métis people, continues to inspire both Métis youth and adults as it resonates throughout the Métis homeland.

All Edmontonians and neighbouring citizens are invited and encouraged to participate in the annual celebration as the MNA welcomes the public to celebrate the rich culture and contributions of Alberta’s Métis people.

On Tuesday, November 15 the MNA’s Provincial Office on Kingsway Avenue will host a “come and go tea” afternoon for and with Elders, seniors and veterans.

On Wednesday, November 16, a Louis Riel Commemorative Ceremony will be held outside the Alberta Legislature Building beginning at 11 a.m. 

In a recent interview with CTV Edmonton, MNA representatives Sarah Parker and Beatrice Demetrius talked about some the events taking place this week.

“Following the Commemorative Ceremony at the Legislature,” noted Parker, “there will be an open house at the MNA office where we’ll have a fiddler providing entertainment and we will be highlighting some of our beautiful artwork.”

That artwork, created by students from across the city, is part of an annual contest that invites Métis students in various age categories to participate; the winner of each category will see his or her artwork on the front of a lapel-pin during next year’s Métis Week celebration. One of the lapel pins, by last year’s 3-7 years of age category winner, Ava Parker, reflects Métis history by encompassing the Red River cart, a Métis trappers tent and the Métis flag, the oldest flag in Canada.

“The goal of the art project,” explained Parker, “is to engage our youth in their heritage and culture. Louis Riel famously quoted that ‘my people will sleep for 100 years and when they awake it will be the artists that awaken their spirit.’ It’s beautiful, and we resonate that sentiment at the Metis Nation.”

To end the day and bring the sunset to a close, Edmonton’s High Level Bridge will be resonating in a colourful splendour of blue and white; the Métis colours that will help to enhance the mid-point of Métis Week 2016. 

Beatrice Demetrius said Métis Week gives Edmontonians and Albertans an opportunity “to learn about who we are and what we are about.”

Asked by the host if she thought most people knew and understood Metis people and culture she replied: “No, I think they kind of throw us in the same bucket as First Nations, but we are a distinct group of people and we have been since the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. At that time, we said we are not First Nations and we are not Caucasians, we are the bois brüle – that means burnt wood – of course today we are known as the Métis.”

A cribbage tournament will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 17 at the Londonderry Hall, located at 14224-74 Street. On Friday, November 18, the same venue will host the Métis Nation of Alberta and Region 4 Festive Jamboree; the event takes place from10 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Métis Nation of Alberta Family Day will take place at the Ramada Inn and Conference Centre on Kingsway Avenue from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday November 19; it is the final event of Métis Week 2016.

At each event throughout the week, the beautiful Metis Anthem will be played. The anthem was penned in 1991 with lyrics by Clint Buehler and music by Dennis Charney. Click here to listen to the anthem. Sing along; the lyrics appear below:


Proud to be Métis (The Metis National Anthem)

Lyrics by Clint Buehler, Music by Dennis Charney

In the forest, on the river, and across the western plain,

As the white man journeyed westward to the land of the Indian.

A new race was created, a new nation rose up strong.
Hardship as its destiny, and its curse to not belong.

In the land from which they came, in the land they helped to build.
They found themselves the alien, found their vision unfulfilled.
And despite their valiant effort, to defend what they believe.
When at last the battle ended, they were only left to grieve.

We are proud to be Métis, watch our Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

From across the plain they traveled, from Red River to the Peace.
Looking for their own homeland, that would help them to replace

All the land that had been taken, and the dreams that had been dashed.
Their brave heroes now called traitors, and courageous deeds now past.

But their spirit was not broken, and their have dreams have never died.
Their determination strengthened even while the people cried,

As they waited for the battle, that would end their years of pain.
And the final bloodless battle, when the Nation rose again.

We are proud to be Métis, watch our Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

For this newest generation, and the future ones to come.
With the past to motivate us, it will help to keep us strong.
As we build the Métis Nation, as we watch it rise again,
Our past loss is motivation, to inspire our future gain.

We are proud to be Métis, watch our Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

We are proud to be Métis, watch our Nation rise again.
Never more forgotten people, we’re the true Canadian.

Copyright © Clint Buehler 1991 (Registered with SOCAN)

Contact the Metis Nation of Alberta Association or the Metis Settlements General Council to learn more about Metis cultural events this week and throughout the year.

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