Hivernant Rendezvous in Big Valley was awesome

Congratulations to the Hivernant Métis Cultural Society on the success of the 2010 Hivernant Rendezvous. Endeavouring to capture the spirit of the past, this annual event is enjoyed here in Big Valley on the first weekend of August.

Modelled after the historic buffalo hunting camps, the Rendezvous is a celebration of Métis history and culture. In the past, the hunt involved organizing people on journeys extending hundreds of miles to where the buffalo grazed. Hundreds of Métis families, with their Red River carts would gather together to set out for the buffalo plains. Carts were loaded with everything they would need for an extended stay on the prairies. They would pick up friends and relatives along the way as they travelled to the traditional hunting grounds.

Many of the participants in these hunts stayed out on the prairie in winter camps. These families were known as “hivernants” (winterers) and this area of Alberta is the traditional site of these winter camps. Hunters from Lac St Anne, Pigeon Lake, Boss Hill, Tail Creek and other Winterer/Hivernant settlements would come together in a Rendezvous to trade and plan the upcoming hunt.

Though an important food-gathering activity and a commercial endeavour, the hunt was also a very important social occasion, bringing together families and friends who often only saw each other a few times a year.

The Métis are a community-centred people and the Rendezvous has always represented the opportunity to come together and celebrate with their families.

Visitors to the Big Valley Rendezvous were treated to a variety of old-fashioned, family oriented activities. The celebration included voyageur games, craft lessons, and storytelling. Vendors offered traditional Métis goods along with seminars on historic skills and crafts. Both a traditional tipi and Red River Cart were set up as displays.

The weekend included great music, shared meals and a fascinating presentation on the history of the Métis in this area. Assistance was offered to anyone interested in researching Métis history and genealogy.

The silent auction included some wonderful items to bid on. Talented young dancers entertained the crowd Saturday evening with their traditional jigging.

Celebrating 2010 as the Year of the Métis, the organizers of this year’s Hivernant Rendezvous did a wonderful job sharing their culture with the rest of us.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, Big Valley is hosting the Ralph Klaus Golf Tournament. The day will start with breakfast at the Community Hall from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Golf begins at 10 a.m. The day will end with a BBQ beginning at 5 p.m at the Community Hall For more information call Larry Klaus at 1-800-232-9470 or Lloyd Duncan at 403-876-2279.

From Aug. 9 to 13, the Big Valley Evangelical Free Church will be holding their Vacation Bible School for children ages five to 12. Join them from 8:45 a.m. till noon for a week of fun stories, crafts, snacks and games. For more information contact Kyle or Tasha Eddy at 403-876-2641.