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Métis history and identity explored over Indigenous Awareness Week

Lakeland College students were given a presentation by the Métis Nation of Alberta on Tuesday.

Indigenous Awareness Week is being held at Lakeland College’s Lloydminster campus. The college’s Indigenous Student Committee is hosting numerous events throughout the week. Region 2 Vice President Andrea Sandmaier shared with students the story of the Métis people. She sees the presentation as an important step to asserting Métis identity.

“We’re making so many in-roads with our rights, our inherent rights. People need to know who we are; we’re not the forgotten people, we’re a distinct people. That’s why we’re trying to get out there as much as we can, telling our story,” says Sandmaier.

In the presentation., Sandmaier covered the history and traditions of the Métis people. Historic cultural symbols like the Red River cart, the Métis sash, beadwork and jigging were explored and explained to the students. The presentation also shared traditions like bannock making, how it used to be made and where it was introduced to the Métis people.

Sandmaier also shared some of the histories behind how the Métis came to be, and who is Métis today. She explained the three indigenous groups recognized in Canada; First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and how distinct the Métis nation is. The Rupertsland Institute was also present to discuss scholarships, job training and opportunities available to Métis students.

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With the recent Métis Nation of Alberta election in September 2018, Sandmaier says the nation has been getting itself out there. Sandmaier says the new councils in the regions of the MNA presents an opportunity to get the Métis story out there, as well as opportunities for Métis people.

“So we are trying to get out there more within our region, to tell the story, the history of the Métis. As well as to let our people and everyone know different programs that we offer, like Rupertsland, and all the different things that we do.”

Event planner for the Indigenous Student Committee, Clinton Dillon, is pleased with the presentation. While he learns about the Métis people in his native studies class, he’s happy to bring the knowledge out to the student body in other ways.

“A lot of people have to know the history of the Métis, and for indigenous awareness week that’s what we wanted to do was share the history of the Métis Nation. It was really important to do that today,” says Dillon.

Indigenous Awareness Week continues this week at Lakeland College. Events will include a powwow performance as well as craft displays and bannock making. As part of the traditional Treaty 6 territory and Region 2 of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Lakeland College acknowledges that Indigenous Peoples are the first peoples of this country.

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