Parks Canada, the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert and Métis advisors launch exhibit to share history of the Métis people and their connection to bison.
ST. ALBERT, AB, June 18, 2022 /CNW/ – The historic conservation success story of Elk Island National Park is becoming a story of reconciliation — a story about restoring the relationships between Indigenous peoples and bison through translocations to communities and by ensuring that their histories and knowledge are integrated by Indigenous peoples into the conservation of this important species.
Today, Elder Archie Arcand from the St. Albert – Sturgeon County Métis Local, Shelley Biermanski, Deputy Mayor of St. Albert, and Ahmad Sanni, Board Trustee with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, joined Parks Canada officials to launch the travelling exhibit Lii Buflo: A Métis Way of Life showcasing the history of the Métis peoples and their relationship with bison.
Working closely with a Métis advisory committee, Elk Island National Park and the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert seek to showcase Métis voices and stories about bison. Through a blend of storytelling and art from Métis artist, Jesse Gouchey, the exhibit offers opportunities for people in the Edmonton Area to learn about the history of the Métis people and the bison while increasing awareness of Elk Island National Park’s bison conservation program.
The Métis people from the area now known as Edmonton continue to have a rich relationship with bison. The history of this relationship is passed down through story from Elders. Historically, the Métis people in this area gathered twice per year to hunt the bison, known in the Métis Northern Michif language as lii buflo. It was a collaborative effort of multiple communities coming together to hunt and process the bison.
At the turn of the 20th century, wild bison were on the brink of extinction following decades of settlers’ market hunting for their hides and in order to clear the plains for agricultural development. Between 1907 and 1909, some of the last surviving bison were shipped to Alberta from Montana. The descendants of these bison can be seen in Elk Island National Park today. Since that time, bison have found a protected sanctuary at Elk Island.
The travelling exhibit Lii Buflo: A Métis Way of Life showcases this important history. Representation in art and history matters – Métis history runs parallel to and intertwines with Canada’s history, and is an important aspect of the foundation of Western Canada.
“Bison were an integral part of the lives of many Métis people across Canada and continue to play an important role today. The Government of Canada is proud of this collaboration to celebrate the Métis way of life, their important cultural connection to bison, and our shared history. This is a tremendous example of Parks Canada working with Indigenous partners to honour the historic and contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous peoples have with ancestral lands and waters.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“The Metis Local 1904 of St. Albert and Sturgeon County is honoured to be part of the first community to enjoy the Travelling Exhibit Lii Buflo: Metis Way of Life. St. Albert Sturgeon County Metis Local 1904 thanks Parks Canada and all those who participated in the development of the exhibit. This exhibit provides a brief overview about the Metis culture in our area, as well as Western Canada and the relationship that existed and continues to exist between the bison and the Metis.
The Metis are the founders of the City of St. Albert and are grateful to have been included in the development of the exhibit. This exhibit will support the Local’s endeavor to revive and re-ignite the rich Metis culture that existed in the St. Albert and Sturgeon County Area.”
Elder Archie Arcand,
St. Albert – Sturgeon County Métis Local
“We are proud to be the first host site for this and to be part of this collaboration, says Craig Cameron, Board Chair of the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert. “Strong relationships have been formed because of this and will continue after the exhibition moves on. Our hope is that this also creates lasting legacies among other communities over time.”
Board Trustee with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert
- The Lii Buflo: A Métis Way of Life travelling exhibit and website provides an engaging and in-depth look at the historic ties and spiritual bond between the Métis people and the buffalo. The colourful story, illustrated by Métis artist Jesse Gouchey, directs visitors to a wide array of traditional, historical and conservation-related bison resources for all ages.
- An Advisory Board from the Métis community in Edmonton and St. Albert steered the Lii Buflo: A Métis Way of Life exhibit to contribute to reconciliation and healing. The exhibit portrays their stories through their unique Métis voice in an accessible product that teaches all Canadians about the significance of the Métis relationship with their fellow nation, the bison.
- This project was developed in partnership with the Arts and Heritage Foundation of St. Albert, with funding from Parks Canada’s Métis Reconciliation Fund.
- The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation and renewed relationships with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership.
- Visit the exhibit installation at St. Albert’s Historic Métis River Lots and Grain Elevator Park in Summer of 2022, during regular operating hours, free of charge to visitors. Visit the exhibit’s website (https://www.pc.gc.ca/elkisland/lii-buflo) for more information and programming ideas for educators and the public.
SOURCE Parks Canada