Métis Crossing set to open July 2

Métis Crossing is located near Smoky Lake, Alta. It opens for the season July 2. (Photos courtesy of the Metis Nation of Alberta website.)

Cultural interpretive centre has modified its programming due to COVID-19.

By Paula E. Kirman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

SMOKY LAKE, Alta.

Métis Crossing, the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta, opens for the 2020 season on July 2, a much-delayed opening than in previous years due to COVID-19 health restrictions. 

Métis Crossing, located near Smoky Lake, Alta., will be run differently this year because of the pandemic, with strict adherence to all public health orders and measures outlined by the province of Alberta and the Métis Nation of Alberta.

This includes:

  • Communication related to COVID-19
  • Procedures for staff or visitors who are sick, visiting, or camping
  • Prevention measures (including screening, hygiene, cleaning, capacity of areas and physical distancing measures, and essential infrastructure to minimize transmission)

“We are thrilled to be re-opening our doors to visitors and offering a cultural interpretive experience in a safe and thoughtful manner,” said Juanita Marois, executive director of Métis Crossing.

Métis Crossing will offer interpretive programming limited to its signature Meet the Métis initiative. Camping will be in private RVS with own water and sewer as the public washroom/shower facilities will not be open. Private guided tours will connect visitors to the distinct story of the Métis people.

“Métis Crossing sits on over 500 acres of land, affording us the opportunity to develop a safe experience for families and isolated units to get out and explore in the wide-open spaces,” Marois said.

“Métis Crossing is proud to offer all our visitors from any variety of backgrounds, age, or knowledge of Métis history, a comprehensive interpretive experience, sharing the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people,” she said.

All tours are restricted to individual groups. In other words, you will only interact with the individuals you arrive with.

Packages are available by pre-booking only. Bookings will be available to groups of 10 or less, and all bookings will be allocated a reserved date and time for a private tour experience. Just like booking a Tee time at a golf course.

The package includes a guided interpretive tour that will include an introduction to Métis Crossing, the Métis peoples, and their heritage, and a walking tour of traditional lands, camps and trapper's cabin with a Métis knowledge holder.

This walking tour includes:

  • An overview of traditional seasonal practices and their importance to the Métis people, as well as demonstrations of art, stories, and history.
  • A walk to the Sinclair and Cromarty houses and gardens, with an introduction to the families, their histories, and an exploration of their houses.
  • A garden tour.
  • Exploring the Riverwalk Trail includes a medicine/food walk, traditional games, and a walk to Homer’s Place where fiddling and jigging is demonstrated and taught, stories are told of the importance of music, dance, and celebration, and participation in arts and crafts.

The new Cultural Gathering Centre will also open this year. It was designed by Métis architect Tiffany Shaw-Collinge from Manasc Isaac Architects.

“The new centre incorporates traditional craftsmanship with modern materials to create a stunning structure that hints at the building style of the fur trade era river lot homes, with the functionality of a contemporary place to gather, learn, and share the Métis story,” said Marois.

The Métis Crossing site is comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis who came to the region in the late 1800s. Métis Crossing’s programming encourages active participation of visitors in activities that promote an appreciation of Métis people, customs, and celebrations.

Métis Crossing offers visitors a number of authentic cultural experiences, including beading, music, dance and food; curriculum-based student/educational activities and experiences; event and function space and catering; and camping facilities, including trappers’ tents.

For more information about Métis Crossing, visit the website at https://metiscrossing.org/ or call 780-656-2229.

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