Join the jig at Métis Crossing, on the journey to reconciliation

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With the swaying staccato of a fiddle and the quick-shuffle of moccasined feet, a cultural movement is afoot in Alberta. It began over 150 years ago, here on the lands of the Victoria Settlement Provincial Historic Site 1.5 hours east of Edmonton on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, when the first Métis settlers set up shop here in the 1860s.

Now, with Indigenous culture on the rise in Canada, Métis Crossing is bringing Métis culture and heritage to the forefront in Alberta. In the fall of 2022, Métis Crossing celebrated its grand opening, with song, dance and traditional ceremony. The opening marked the culmination of two years of transformation on the site, including new opportunities for experiencing Métis culture.

LilyRose Meyers, a Métis knowledge holder, shares cultural teachings with guests.

Through offerings such as Métis crafting, archery, paddling and even close encounters with bison, Métis Crossing has gone from a quiet home to traditional artifacts and historical interpretation, to a living centre for Métis culture. And there’s never been a better time to visit.

“Grand opening?” Some may ask. Well yes, Métis Crossing has been around for a while. But after a multi-year, multi-million dollar transformation, including a new hotel, Cultural Gathering Centre and a host of new experiences all built and launched over the last three years, this is the culmination of a vision that germinated decades ago. 

A group of guests, outfitted in traditional capotes, head out on a "Tales from the Trapline" experience.

As we acknowledge the wrongs of the past, many of us are seeking ways to move forward along the path to reconciliation. Visiting, learning and connecting to culture at sites like Métis Crossing open the door to that possibility.

Connecting to Métis Heritage

What does that mean for visitors? It starts with being welcomed into the Métis jig, the traditional Métis dance. A simple 3-and-1 dance step, the jig seems deceptively easy. 

When put to the test like Sameer Ahmed and his wife, Salma, who learned the dance one sunny afternoon at Métis Crossing, visitors quickly realize that the dance takes practice, skill, grace and endurance. But if you’re willing to make an attempt, the dance will quickly welcome you in. 

Athabasca jig dancing
Photographer: Jeremy Derksen
The Ahmed family learning a jig on the deck of the Cultural Gathering Centre.

The emphasis at Métis Crossing is on celebrating their resilient culture, and not dwelling on the negatives of the past. In this spirit, you will quickly find yourself feeling the warm welcome that makes each visitor here feel at home, regardless of where you come from. 

A visit to Métis Crossing can follow any path you wish, within the range of offerings on site. Go for the day, or stay several days, and build your own adventure with signature experiences, tours, activities and Indigenous-inspired cuisine. 

Whether you've visited before or it's your first time, you'll likely see some changes to the site. Here are some things to know, as you plan your visit.

Things to do at Métis Crossing 

With the transformation of its grounds, Métis Crossing has also introduced new experiences with a view to staying true to Métis heritage. Think wildlife, archery, paddling, crafting and storytelling. Each forms its own signature experience on site.

Métis Crossing made the news when it reintroduced bison to the landscape, including the rare white bison among its herd. An iconic new tour lets visitors see the bison up close in their natural habitat.

In winter, there’s also an archery experience, crafting and storytelling. And in summer or fall, there are few things that unite people more than paddling a voyageur canoe together, as Kristina Martel and Myk Morris discovered on a fall visit in 2021.

Even for those who have Métis ancestry, like Martel, a day spent here is both a refreshing outdoor experience and a way to connect to culture: ““I’m actually Métis myself (but) … I only found out in the last few years, so I love to brush up on my culture.” 

Métis inspired food & dining

With all the activity on site, food options will become important at some point during your stay. Once again, the focus at Métis Crossing has been to return to using the land to provide, growing ingredients from its gardens to furnish and inspire the menus created by Indigenous chefs, right on site. 

Métis Crossing Smoky Lake Alberta Rob Hislop ZenSeekers
Photographer: Rob Hislop
Guests enjoying lunch at Métis Crossing's grand opening, September 2022.

Staying at Métis Crossing

Early in 2021, The Lodge at Métis Crossing opened for guests. With 40 rooms, this boutique hotel on the banks of the river offers year-round comfort for guests. 

Informed once again by Métis tradition, The Lodge offers a true nature retreat with rooms facing onto the river, perfect for enjoying the beauty of the seasons. Even closer to nature, guests can stay in a trappers tent (in season) or pitch their own campsite.

And for a unique sky viewing experience, you can also choose to stay in one of the site's Sky Watching Pods (pictured below). 

Métis Crossing Smoky Lake Alberta sky dome Rob Hislop ZenSeekers
Photographer: Rob Hislop
Visitors explore the inside of a sky dome, available for overnight stays.

All together, the grand opening in September 2022 represented a homecoming of all that is Métis on the site. Here, as visitors on this land, we can learn from the past and look to a brighter future, in the examples of community, resilience, creativity and natural connection that inform a visit to Métis Crossing. Now is the time to begin a new journey, starting here.

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