Historic announcement as Back to Batoche celebrations kick off

It is a packed house at Back to Batoche celebrations today in Saskatchewan, the first in person gathering in two years which is celebrating what Elder Norman Fleury, who gave the prayer at this morning’s opening ceremonies, described as a milestone event marking 50 years of celebration of the Metis coming together. Fleury, fluent in the Metis language, gave the prayer in Michif and Metis singer Falynn Baptiste sang Canada’s national anthem in Cree and English.

In an announcement, which some at the opening ceremonies say means the Metis in Saskatchewan are no longer a landless people, Parks Canada is transferring approximately 690 hectares of land situated on the west side of the Batoche National Historic Site to the citizens of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan. The federal government says the transfer of land is a tangible example of the Government of Canada’s commitment to advancing reconciliation.

The in-person speakers list featured dignitaries like Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty, Governor General Mary Simon, Minister of North Affairs Dan Vandal as well as the Presidents of Metis Nation Saskatchewan and the Metis National Council. The opening ceremony wrapped up with a military fly-by at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The celebration takes place at the national historic site of the Battle of Batoche, the site of the 1885 Northwest Resistance. There is storytelling,  fiddling, jigging, square-dancing, music, Métis artists, traditional land use teachings, voyageur games, chuckwagon racing, sports, contemporary games, Indigenous language, and traditional food.

MN–S is also hosting a special memorial ceremony at the historic graveyard in Batoche on Sunday to honour those lost during the pandemic. A special urn, holding the names of loved ones, will be buried in the graveyard.

Metis Nation of Saskatchewan spokesperson Brent Digness says the return of the celebration to the festival grounds is a special one.

“The Metis culture has always been a gathering people,” Digness said. “The two years of not being able to get together… was very difficult for us. And that’s why coming together for Batoche is indescribable in words.”

(With files from CJWW News)

More from 620 CKRM