Celebrating Métis Culture at Fort St. James National Park

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Fort St James – Métis Days

On Saturday, September 16th, Métis Days was celebrated at the Fort St. James National Historic Site. The President of the New Caledonia Métis Association, Lana Olson, hosted and organized this fun-filled cultural event. It drew in crowds from communities from all over BC (including Fort St James, Vanderhoof, Prince George, Powell River, Nanaimo, and the Lower Mainland). MNBC community members, other Métis, First Nation, and non-Aboriginal people all came together to celebrate Métis culture and heritage. The historic site is a restored Hudson's Bay Company post on the southern shores of Stuart Lake. It is commemorated as a centre of trade and commerce in the 19th century fur trade. Originally established by Simon Fraser for the North West Company in 1806, this place displays the largest group of original wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada. It is rich in Métis and First Nations history and heritage.

As with previous celebrations, the day began with the crowd heading over to the flagpole. Mike Bennie, who currently lives on Vancouver Island but has direct family ties to the historic site, led the prayer and flag raising.

The crowds then moved over to the main event area where there were several vendors, artisans, and live performances throughout the day.

Mike Bennie was back this year to run his extremely popular and challenging tomahawk throwing and talk about his original and creative artwork. His tomahawk target was one of the events that made up the “Hunters Challenge”.  The Hunters Challenge was made up of four events: sling shot, atlatl, tomahawk, and rifle shooting. Contestants took 5 shots during each event and were scored by Parks Canada staff. It was a ton of fun with many participants. Director of Natural Resources, Christopher Gall won first place overall this year.

Raynie Gervais, the Region 5 Director, entertained everyone with his impressive fiddling and Beverley Lambert had everyone dancing and jigging with her energetic performances. Everyone was impressed by this lively display of Métis culture.

Throughout the rest of the day there were chicken races, guitar solos, a pie auction, chicken bingo, and a bake/BBQ sale to help raise funds for the New Caledonia Métis Association (Vanderhoof).

MNBC would like to thank Parks Canada for hosting this successful and fun day. Particularly, Rene Leidl, for playing a key role in the coordination of the event. It was an enjoyable and inviting environment to proudly celebrate Métis culture and heritage. Another big thank you to all of the Métis performers, entertainers, and salmon-chefs out there, you all make this event such a huge success and showcased our unique Métis culture and heritage.

Don't forget to check out our VIDEO ALBUM of the event. 

Thank you and see you all again next year!