Metis gather to spread culture

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo Elizabeth Potskin, left,of the Edmonton Metis Cultural Dancers, teaches Hope Norn and Brooke Dixon the basic steps of a jig during a dancing workshop August 9 at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.

Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo
Elizabeth Potskin, left,of the Edmonton Metis Cultural Dancers, teaches Hope Norn and Brooke Dixon the basic steps of a jig during a dancing workshop August 9 at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.

Metis from all over the South Slave met in Hay River to celebrate their culture as part of the first annual Metis Cultural Days last week.

“We had so many people for the workshops last night,” said Karen Lafferty, one of the event’s organizers and a member of the Metis Cultural Institute. “A lot of elders came out, and it was great to see them and everyone else out for the evening… it made me proud to be Metis, that’s for sure.”

The workshops Friday evening included bannock-making, fish-filleting, as well as geese and moose calling. Lafferty said a two-year-old girl was perfectly at ease making her own bannock and an older child had to be dragged away from the activities at the end of the night.

“It’s about making sure our culture stays alive,” she said. “And making sure that we can all come together and share between communities in the South Slave.”

Lafferty said the co-operation of members in Fort Resolution, Fort Smith and the host community was essential to the event’s success.

Music was also a part of the celebration.

“It looks like it’ll be a great time tonight,” said Gerald Poitras, drummer for North Country Rock on Saturday afternoon.

He said the band had just returned from Midway, a gig in the Beaufort Delta, and was set to make an appearance at the Gateway Jamboree in Enterprise the same afternoon. North Country Rock was one of several live entertainers set to play the Metis dance that night, along with the Edmonton Metis Cultural Dancers and locals in an adult talent show.

“We just wanted to do something that had something for everyone,” said Lafferty. “The band is great, they always play a great mix of songs and draw out a big crowd, and we’re excited to see the dancers perform for the crowd.”

Despite all the work involved, Lafferty said she will likely be involved next year too.

“It’s meant to bring the Metis community together, and we have,” she said. “Some of them haven’t ever seen each other in a long long time, and it’s so good to see those reunions happening.”

Next year, the plan is to host the event in Fort Smith.

 

– Sarah Ladik