Stettler played host this past weekend, Aug. 8-10, to Métis from all over Alberta as they came together for their annual general meeting and youth conference.
While rain dampened and cancelled some Friday events, it didn’t keep people away from the gathering and celebration, Marlene Lanz, regional president for Region 3, of which Stettler is a part, said.
“We had to cancel some of our events at Tail Creek because of the rain,” she confirmed. “We moved some of them to the Agriplex in Stettler.”
Though Lanz didn’t have firm attendance numbers, she did know that there were roughly 600 adult voters present during the event, and “they bring their families so it’s double that.”
This year is an election year within the Métis Nation of Alberta, with elections taking place on Sept. 2. Lanz is running for her place as regional president of Region 3 again, she confirmed, and hopes she will be able to continue to serve the people of the region. She expects there will be some changes to the faces of the executive at next year’s AGM, however.
A pig roast and dance scheduled for Friday at Tail Creek was moved to the Agriplex due to the rain, but Lanz said the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the people who travelled to Stettler to see friends, family and share in their heritage.
“There was lots of dancing, lots of fun,” Lanz said. “Hosting the AGM is a lot of work and planning but it’s worth it. People were saying that we had some of the best activities of the recent AGMs.”
Activities included tours of local historical sites, though a tour of a cemetery that came to be the final resting place of many of their descendants had to be cancelled due to time constraints.
While the adults attended to management and business affairs of the Métis nation, the youth were participating in a youth conference that ran alongside the adult affairs.
Calgary’s Brett Chernow was one of the organizers of the youth conference.
“We’re doing a lot of different activities over the weekend,” he said. “We brought in Rupert’s Land Institute to do a labour market presentation for the older youth as well as job training, resume building and so on.”
Some of the activities included canoe making and the creation of a collaborative film, which was presented to the adults during the banquet late on Saturday.
“We do a lot of traditional Métis crafts,” Chernow said. “It’s important our youth know how to do these things, so they can pass it on.”
While originally Chernow had envisioned the canoe building craft to be the building of a real, life-sized canoe, it became apparent it wouldn’t work out, both in time and in the labour and skill required. Instead, the youth made smaller, crafty canoes, though they used the same sort of skills they’d need in making full-sized vessels, just sized down.
Another event the youth participated in was traditional sash weaving. Where First Nations have different type of regalia, including headdresses, the Métis identify themselves through the wearing of the traditional sash, a primarily-red sash woven in a particular arrow pattern. This sash is usually worn belted around the waist with the ends dangling down along the hip.
The final, big project was a collaborative effort in which the youth created a video celebrating their history and their culture. The video was presented during the banquet to the adults later on Saturday.
“Our sound guy had left, so we had to make it work with a microphone, but it was really good,” Lanz said of the video.
The meeting and conference finished up early on Sunday.