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New website portrays Alberta’s Métis
Native Journal, April 2005
By Terry Lusty
(Copyright Native Journal 2005)
The Métis are on the move again. And how!
In a newly created online website, The Métis in Alberta got off the ground Tuesday, March 29 in the Shaw Theatre at the NAIT Campus in Edmonton with special guests, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan and the Honourable Pearl Calahasen, Alberta’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Also in attendance were representatives of the Métis nation of Alberta (MNC) with Pres. Audrey Poitras and Vice-Pres. Trevor Gladue as well as Community Heritage Foundation chairperson Adriana Davies, Senator Tommy Banks and City of Edmonton councilor Michael Phair.
On the heels of welcoming remarks from the emcee, Satya Das, and ecstatic Davies was all smiles with the Métis as the newest addition to a special 30-part site intended to educate people about Alberta’s vast and rich history. Davies described the Métis as “a vibrant, living people” who were “the first of the Francophones in the West.”
Deputy PM McLellan expressed how the website is part and parcel of “an ambitious plan to create an Alberta Online Encyclopedia of 30 sites produced by the Heritage Foundation. Using sight, sound and images it will “make Alberta’s history come alive” and “capture the spirit and character of this great province,” she said.
The Métis, she pointed out, “played an important and enduring role in Canada and Alberta’s history” in such areas as the fur trade, Louis Riel, Métis struggles in Alberta to secure settlement lands and inclusion in Section 35 of the Constitution Act as one of the country’s three Aboriginal groups of people.
The site, she concluded, offers “innovative ways” of presenting our province and the country’s history “across the country and around the world.”
Alberta Métis president Audrey Poitras, informed the gathering of her organizations efforts at developing their historic site at Victoria Landing near Smoky Lake and praised the website as something more than just “general information”
As stated by MLA Pearl Calahasen, the Métis have “come a long way” in Alberta’s history and are a people whose story and presence went “unrecognized” for a long time. The website, she explained, will offer this “vast amount of knowledge” and provide a valuable medium that “links us all together” and gets us “to the point of breaking down barriers” of knowledge and understanding of Métis people and their culture and history.. MNA vice-prs. Gladue spoke of the venture as part of a “medium of communicating media-rich heritage content” and has “created a gateway to classroom and online learning.” The legacy of the missionaries in Canada’s west and how they “became tools for government policy” involving their “relation to Aboriginal people” is told as is the unique creation of Métis communities in this province, he said.
The guest speaker at the launching then gathered together at the front of the theatre and electronically “cut the ribbon” to officially release “The Métis in Alberta” website which is fully bilingual, features over 500 images spread out over 175 pages, and includes a Métis history timeline, It incorporates family stories from Alberta’s Métis, excerpts from existing video productions such as Summer Wives, audio clips from CKUA Radio’s Heritage Trail series. etc.
This “dynamic resource,” according to the Heritage Foundation, is a fine example of the co-operation demonstrated by the partners behind it – the Métis Nation, St. Albert’s Musee Heritage Museum, Musee historique de St. Paul, the University of Alberta’s Faculte Saint-Jean, and the Historic Sites and Cultural Facilities Branch of Alberta Community Development.
Funding the website was made possible thanks to contributions from such areas as: Industry Canada’s Francommunaetes virtuelles program, Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Culture Online Program and the Government of Alberta’s Community Initiatives Program. As for the technical production of the website, which was earlier acknowledged by Councillor Michael Phair, at least part of that credit goes to several Aboriginals who are computer students at the NAIT Campus.
People are encouraged to tap into the unique and colourful resources of this website by bring up www.albertasource.ca/metis/.
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