Braiding a small bracelet in the style and technique of the Métis sash.
While the family has visited other heritage attractions in Alberta, both Salma and Sameer have come away having learned something new.
“Just based on what we know generally, it’s interesting to see how things actually were. We’ve been to other places, and you get a certain impression about indigenous ways of living,” Salma says. “I found it interesting to see how similar the Métis and settler cultures were. You are probably thinking tipis versus seeing actual homesteads.”
Check out this Facebook Live video about Metis Crossing
Another big takeaway for the family is the significance of the Victoria Settlement, on which Métis Crossing sits. Perched on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River about 100 kilometres downriver from Edmonton, the settlement was strategically situated for fur trading expeditions.
“I would never have known about this place, that it was such a major fort between Edmonton and Winnipeg,” Salma adds. “When you think about them going down the river, they had to have places to stop, and where they stopped is where people lived.”
In today’s developed world, it’s easy to overlook the significance of the river in shaping culture and civilization in the pre-modern era. Before railways, highways and modern conveniences, rivers were life-giving hubs of activity. The Métis people lived off this land and venerated its bounty.
Looking out on the settlement, with its flourishing gardens and log-built homesteads backing onto the flowing waters of the North Saskatchewan, one can begin to get a sense of that connection and what it meant to the Métis people, and what lessons we might take from that.