How to plan an off-site team building event that actually works

Team building events, and their integral team building activities, are a tool used by businesses around the world. Often companies decide to hold these events away from the office. They are a great way to gain a fresh perspective, build cohesion, foster teamwork or solve a problem. The outcome for employees should have positive and lasting effects.

Unfortunately, many team building off-sites turn out to be ineffective. A great deal of planning and preparation needs to happen, even before the off-site event takes place, and sometimes getting the sequencing right isn’t easy.

Do’s and Don’ts for a successful off-site team event

To maximise the success of your off-site team event, take a look at these suggested “Do’s and Dont’s”:

Do’s 

    • Set clear goals;
    • Create an agenda; 
    • Set ground rules;
    • Gather anonymous input and suggestions;
    • Plan activities that actually build teams;
    • Build in process reflection time; 
    • Schedule a post event follow up.

Don’ts

    • Don’t let the team’s old dynamics constrain the new dynamics that you’re trying to create;
    • Don’t focus too much on the strengths, development needs, or personalities of individual members of the team;
    • Don’t abdicate your authority, or send mixed messages about your role; 
    • Don’t do anything that causes the team to engage in dysfunctional conflict or competition among individuals.

Consider Metis Crossing for your team event

Métis means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and is a premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Sitting on 512-acres of land, comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to the region in the late 1800s, the crossing is designed to engage and excite visitors through an exploration of Métis cultural experiences.

Métis Crossing strives to represent and share elements of Métis culture; pride of culture and respect (with self-identification), family reconnection and reconciliation, sacredness of place and empathy and acknowledgement.

Métis Crossing is the perfect place to host your next corporate training or workshop. The brand-new, state of the art Cultural Gathering Centre sets the stage for a day of learning on historical land. The state-of-the-art technology allows your training or presentation to be seamless – connecting you around the world through our wireless connection. It is the perfect place for Indigenous training or other workshops your company may be putting on for staff.

Métis Crossing has been developed to be a year-round destination centered around the distinct Métis Indigenous story and culture. Below are just a few plans for the future:

    • The Métis Crossing Lodge
    • Star Watching Glass Pods
    • Playground Area
    • Animal Area
    • Historical Métis Exhibit
    • Skills Show
    • Cooking Demonstrations
    • Skills Barn
    • Traditional Gardens
    • Archery
    • Toboggan Run

The value of injecting culture into your off-site team building event

Historical proof - refers to evidence of an ancestor who received a land grant or a scrip granted under the Manitoba Act or the Dominion Lands Act, or who was recognized as Métis in other government, church or community records. The Métis People have a distinct culture and nationhood.

In the past decade, the Métis population has nearly doubled making the Métis one of the fastest growing populations in Canada with a population estimated at 451,795 in 2011 of which a significantly high percentage lived in Alberta alone. Today, Alberta accounts for more than 96,865 Métis which is the largest among the provinces and territories representing more than 21.4% of all Métis in Canada. While Métis live and work in virtually every community in Alberta, the higher populace is seen in the estimated 31, 780 (33%) Métis living in Edmonton, and the 17,040 (18%) in Calgary, making up approximately 55 percent of the total Aboriginal population in the province. Alberta is the only Canadian province where the Métis have a land base recognized under provincial legislation – There are 8 Métis Settlements in Alberta.

Developing your employee off-site strategy

As part of the planning process, you need to develop your employee off-site strategy. Here are some best practices:

    • Write down a realistic agenda. Make sure to include some downtime, space for one-on-ones and meals. Activities, for example yoga and an evening whiskey tasting, can be fun little extras. Avoid overscheduling or micromanaging coworkers. 
    • Take stock of your current culture. Ask yourself this question: What are our mission, vision, and values? Ideas for your off-site need to align with your mission, vision, and values.

Aligning employee offsite meetings with employee recognition

Again, your company offsite should prove that the leadership of your organization is in touch with your employees. What do your employees care about at work? At home? There is so much more to employee recognition than dollar amounts. An elaborate company meeting can strengthen your organization’s peer relationships, but it won’t replace them when it comes to keeping employees engaged.

Meaningful activities for company offsite meetings

Here are some activity suggestions that can be meaningful for everyone attending:

    • Games: It’s not often you get all your employees in one spot, so pick activities that are both fun and meaningful! 
    • Service: There’s nothing to say the competition can’t be service-related. Many service organizations offer professional coordinators to help with setup, making it easier to mobilize your workforce for a good cause.
    • Roundtables: Among all the learning that goes on during company offsite meetings, some of the best insights can come through feedback from coworkers.

Team building activities

Team building activities are not limited to the trust falls. Consider these alternatives:

    • Scavenger Hunt
    • Board Game Tournament 
    • Office Trivia 
    • Go-Kart racing 
    • Professional Development Workshop
    • Jigsaw Puzzle Race
    • Room Escape Games

On-site activities at Metis Crossing include:

Signature experiences: Métis Crossing offers visitors the opportunity to participate in guided cultural interpretive experiences, sharing the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people in an interactive way. These signature experiences change with the seasons. This winter visitors can participate in Tales from the Trapline, a 4-hour immersive Indigenous experience that explores Métis traditional winter activities and skills on a historic Métis River Lot farm. Strap on a set of snowshoes, set a snare, build a survival shelter, and learn a traditional art as you create your own unique and beautiful keepsake.

Traditional workshops: Métis Crossing offers a variety of Traditional Workshops, providing an opportunity for interactive, hands-on learning experiences. This Winter they are offering a series of traditional arts and crafts workshops for individuals of all skill levels!

Daily experiences: Métis Crossing is pleased to offer daily experiences included in the price of admission. These activities include historical exhibits, art exhibits and additional Métis cultural interpretive experiences.

Keynote speakers

Choosing the right keynote speaker is important. They establish the underlying tone and theme of your off-site program. Consider these categories, and the purpose of your event, when making your choice: 

    • Inspirational: A presenter with an impressive life story can provide a human element to your company retreat;
    • Functional: A functional keynote speaker can take your employees through exercises designed to improve common working skills, such as communication;
    • Leadership: Have leaders speak directly and authentically to their employees.

Logistics for a successful employee offsite meeting 

Planning an off-site event can be complex and involve many steps. You may find it helpful to think about these logistics in the planning stage. 

Venue considerations 

Selecting the right venue is one of the most important first steps. Ask yourself these questions:

    • Is the venue large enough?
    • Does it have overnight accommodation?
    • What is parking like?
    • How will attendees travel there?
    • Does the venue provide catering? 

When you visit Métis Crossing you will never leave hungry. Our fresh food approach is guided by Indigenous culinary masters that are bringing a taste of our culture right to you. Métis Crossing offers guests an optional lunch menu that includes locally harvested ingredients with traditional ties to the Métis people and heritage.

Scheduling considerations

After selecting a venue, visit the venue before the event and measure some factors that will affect your employee offsite schedule:

    • Set a date at least two months in advance;
    • Scope out traveling times between areas where different activities;
    • Ask your catering company approximate times for serving the number of employees you expect to attend;
    • Provide buffers for technical difficulties;

What are the reasons to hold an off-site team building event?

Getting people out of the office opens up new perspectives, and can spur discussions and relationships that don’t naturally happen at work. Most companies struggle to find time to take a ‘day off’ to work on what matters, while everyday problems keep piling up. 

A team offsite is useful for:

    • Building trust and collaboration;
    • Building communication;
    • Strategy and alignment;
    • Learning and experimenting;
    • Tackle large initiatives;
    • Team awareness.

Métis Crossing is located 1.5 hours northeast of Edmonton, just 10 minutes South of Smokey Lake on the Victoria Trail. With cultural experiences, full day activities and fun for all ages. Visiting from a distance? There are camping options available, stay the night and enjoy a campfire. Spend time in this beautiful outdoor landscape which will only enhance your team’s off-site event. 

What are you trying to solve?

Before embarking into a team offsite make sure you define a clear objective for the session. It’s also important to agree on expectations and what the ideal outcome should look like. The more clear and focused the goal, the more effective the offsite will be.

Be ready to reframe the problem 

Understanding the problem is the key to designing the right experience. Often, the initial assessment differs from the real problem. The pre-work phase provides valuable insights to better understand what’s going on, and bridge the gap between what management sees and what the team members observe.

Plan your team offsite event ahead of time

A team offsite involves a lot of planning and people. A small group, leader included, should be involved in the key design phases and approval. Preparing the team is vital without putting too much additional load on their shoulders. Sending out some pre-reads or exercises can help create curiosity. Consider what resources you already have at your disposal. 

Having a clear agenda with planned activities and break is critical, but facilitators must also be flexible. To keep the energy flowing, group dynamics must change — switch partners, alternate sitting and standing activities. The post event follow-up is everything.

When all of these pro tips align, your attendees will be able to seamlessly apply everything they’ve learned and experienced in their day-to-day work long after your event has ended.

Testimonial by Greg Probert, Principal, Ecole Campbelltown “In August of 2019 Ecole Campbelltown went to Metis Crossing for some professional development. This was one of the most valuable and engaging Professional Development sessions we have done in a long time. We learned about the history of the metis people in Alberta, the ins and outs of the new TQS requirements, danced the jog, took part in weaving/beading/ a craft using fish scales / birch bark and other natural items. We also had a meal together, which was topped off with Bannock. It was an absolutely, beautiful and relaxing learning environment, we were surrounded by nature, history and the amazing team of leaders at the Crossing. Kudos to metis Crossing for an overall, outstanding experience!”

Metis Crossing is the perfect place for your next team building event. 

Contact Metis Crossing today to book your event!

Exploring the Métis People of Alberta

The Métis people have a unique identity distinct from the Indigenous and European roots of Canada; they are considered one of the three groups of aboriginals in Canada. The original Métis people were the offspring of the indigenous women and fur traders of European descent situated in the Red River area, the area now known as Manitoba.

The word Métis is a French term that means ‘mixed’ and can be used to describe anyone of mixed descent. They were responsible for establishing the first trade relationships between Canada and Europe thus advancing trade relations between these two communities. This cultural blend contributed to their local language known as the French Cree. 

The history of the Métis culture dates as far back as the 17th century;  they were known for their distinctive clothing, art, festive music, and dance.  They were also highly skilled in the art of fishing, hunting, and fur trapping.

What symbols represent the Métis culture?

The Métis flag is symbolic of a nation that displays its heritage with pride. This red and blue flag with an infinity symbol on it represents the blending of two cultures who have remained an established nation in Canada to this day. Several other things that were unique to the Métis culture that include:  

The Red River Cart  - the Red River Cart was a means of mobility for these resourceful people who traveled for miles on end along the Plains transporting food and other resources.

The Red River Jig -  skilled in the arts and dance, the Red River Jig was a fanciful traditional Métis dance comprising intricate dance steps accompanied by the sound of European music that they created with the use of cleverly designed fiddles.

The Métis Sash - The Métis Sash (like the Métis flag) is one of the most prominent symbols of the Métis culture. This brightly woven garment is also worn as a symbol of pride and identity to honor this enduring culture.

Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Indigenous Tourism Alberta is dedicated to providing a rich cultural experience for tourists and locals alike to experience the culturally diverse history of Canada, specifically the history of the indigenous people known as the First Nations, the Métis, and the Inuit, the first indigenous settlers on the North American plains.

Indigenous Tourism Alberta honors and respects the eight settlements of the Métis nation, the homelands of the Métis, as well as the six Métis regions of Alberta, together with other traditional treaties that belong to the indigenous people of Alberta.

The eight settlements unique to the Métis people include Buffalo Lake, East Prairie, Elizabeth Fishing Lake, Gift Lake, Kikino, and Paddle Prairie and Peavine which form part of the recognized indigenous territories of Alberta.

Indigenous Travel Association of Canada

The Indigenous Travel Association of Canada aims to enhance the thirteen indigenous regions of Canada through economic developments, increase of tourism events, training and skills development, and the provision of the latest research and information for industry-specific trades in the indigenous communities.

The Indigenous Travel Association of Canada has now just introduced unique travel experiences that highlight and take visitors on a unique travel experience back in time. Through activities based on the life and times of indigenous people, The Indigenous Travel Association of Canada aims to highlight the values of honor, cultural pride, and loyalty of the Métis people that still influence our Canadian heritage today.

One culture in particular, the Métis, greatly influenced the various practices that advanced the homelands and territories into productive prospering economic hubs. The Métis people exhibited a harmonious blend of two very different cultures from different lands coming together to work as one.

The Métis people were lively people who enjoyed living in the moment. As much as they were focused on sustaining and growing their communities through the development of ingenious hunting-gathering and fur trapping methods, they also greatly valued the importance of family and friendship and were known for their storytelling, dancing style (known as the traditional Red River Jig), and music and were highly skilled at playing the fiddle.

Points of interest to discover more about the Métis people

The Métis Nation of Alberta is an institution that is dedicated to honoring the traditions and culture of the Métis Nation. Through various educational and community-based programs, their goal has been to preserve, uphold, and improve the living conditions of the Métis people and to guard their role in society. 

The Métis people occupied several distinct territories in Alberta each related to a specific way of living unique to this historic tribe of people. There are opportunities to gain first-hand experience to see how and where the Métis people lived back in the day through the exploration of these different sites. 

Victoria Settlement

Paddling into the Past provides the perfect opportunity to travel in a canoe along the fur trade routes on the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca River. (It is currently on hold due to Covid19 restrictions).

It is an outdoor real-life experience that is as close to nature as you can get. The Victorian settlements provincial historical sites further immerse you into the Métis fur trade era where you can transport fur in bales just as they did. 

Hand-written letters by the Métis will make you feel as if you are right there speaking to them face to face and you get to experience Métis life vicariously through these time kept treasures.

The Hudson’s Bay building was restored in 1864 and it is here that you can get to recreate crafts that were popular at this time. Guides dressed in ethnic costumes will take you on an educational experience to see what life was actually like inside the fort.

Métis Crossing is where you will get to experience the famous fur trade era of the Métis culture. True to the welcoming nature of the Métis people you will get invited into an original Métis family home where you will get to try your hand out at weaving a sash and setting a fur trap.

Elk Island

Elk Island National Park is a natural heritage site that is perfect for shorter day activities like hiking or longer ones such as staying at a campsite overnight. This heritage site is of particular importance due to the preservation of the once near-extinct bison buffalo. It is also home to elk and many other indigenous bird species. 

There are activities to do on the island for both children and adults and this makes it an ideal family-friendly getaway. Your child can explore safe and secure nature trails, enjoy the local playground as well as play on the beach. 

If you don’t like experiencing the outdoors without the company of your furry friend you can bring them along too as there are dog-walking trails as well as a host of other outdoor activities that will set the stage for outdoor life and outdoor living such as camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and cycling.

Explore Edmonton

Métis Crossing is the first major cultural interpretive centre of Alberta. It is a facility that celebrates and educates tourists and locals alike about the activities that centred around Métis culture and the resources they used to build a self-sustaining lifestyle in the fishing, hunting, and fur trapping trade. Experience the harmonious and free-spirited lifestyle of the Métis here through the arts, storytelling, and dance.

Rupert's Land Institute 

Rupert’s Land Institute's works alongside the Métis Nation of Alberta. Its purpose is to establish an educational training and research framework to support and equip Métis people with additional skills and resources to improve and enhance the lives of the Métis people.

Fort Edmonton Park

Fort Edmonton Park is a world on its own and is set to open in 2021. Step into the world of the Métis nation like never before as you explore the daily living of the Métis from how they conducted their fur trade activities to how they seized Fort Garry during the Red River Rebellion.

Visit Métis Crossing for the full experience

The Métis people are people who are classified as Métis by either receiving a land grant by the Manitoba or Dominion Land Act or otherwise recognized as such by either the government, the church, or the local community.

While the Métis people live and work in most areas in Alberta, in general, they have quite high population percentages in Edmonton and Calgary specifically. It is only in Alberta where you will find actual provincial legislation that recognizes the eight Métis settlements in Alberta.

For the full Métis experience at Métis Crossing, you can give our Walk in Our Mocs - Métis Archery Program a try. This immersive and detailed tourism experience will walk you through the daily life and living of the Métis people and how they worked the land. 

You can also get to try your hand at using a bow and arrow, a unique method that the Métis people used to hunt and trap wild animals. You are also able to taste the unique flavor of Métis food through a Métis inspired menu. Some other culturally inspired activities include:

    • Learning how to make a traditional Métis woolen capote using traditional Métis methods, design, and decorations.
    • Paddle into the Past is one of our most famous Métis experiences; however, this has been understandably put on hold due to Covid19 restrictions. When restrictions are lifted you can expect to look forward to lessons on crafting, a canoe Voyageur experience, learning about traditional plants and the medicinal and herbal benefits that the Métis derived from them, as well as how to do a traditional jig known as the Red River Jig.
    • Tales of the Trapline Experience - this Métis cultural experience is a true winter experience set in the heartlands of the Métis River Lot Farm. Explore this area and learn how to set a snare while navigating the snow with your snowshoes on and learn how to build a survival shelter designed to withstand the freezing elements.
    • There are also other event catering experiences we offer which include event and function hire, camping in trappers’ tents, gift shops and cafes where you can buy traditional Métis nick-nacks, food, and drinks as well as educational experiences based on set curriculums taught by experienced educators.

The Métis nation has contributed so much towards enriching Alberta and making it the multicultural diverse province that it is today – one that embraces diversity as well as the values and cultural contributions of all its indigenous people.

If you're looking for a memorable experience that is rooted in culture, teamwork, loyalty, honor, and pride in one’s history, contact us today for more information.

How to incorporate culture and heritage into your wedding

Your wedding is likely to be the most complex and important party you will ever put together. From the venue to the food, you would like to make your wedding the most perfect and memorable event you can. By incorporating culture and heritage into your wedding you can make it all the more memorable.

Here we will take a deep dive into how to incorporate culture and heritage into your wedding, specifically the Indigenous culture here in Alberta, Canada. We will examine authentic ways to bring Indigenous culture to the wedding, how to go about planning it, and why the Métis culture can make your wedding day perfect and one you shall never forget. So let’s get started and see how to create a perfect cultural wedding.

An authentic way to bring Indigenous culture to your Alberta wedding

Indigenous culture has a large role in the history of this land and Canada. When incorporating another culture and heritage into your wedding it is important to do it in an authentic and respectful way. Here are four ways how you can bring Indigenous culture to your wedding here in Alberta, Canada:

1. Host your wedding at an Indigenous venue

To truly bring authenticity to your wedding as well as supporting the local Indigenous community, consider hosting your wedding at an Indigenous venue. Many cultural centres are in Indigenous land and run by Indigenous people who are eager to bring their unique history, traditions, art, and culture to your wedding.

2. Have Indigenous cuisine in the menu

Food is a very important part of a wedding ceremony, and it can also communicate much about a culture’s traditions and history. Consider having a fully Indigenous meal or a fusion of cuisine at your wedding. Look for a venue that also offers catering, or can refer you to a chef that specializes in Indigenous cuisine.

3. Give a land acknowledge to start off the wedding 

Take the time during your ceremony to pause and reflect on the land’s relationship with the First Peoples in Canada which include First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This is a gesture of reconciliation, respect, and goodwill.

4. Traditional Indigenous activities

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada has shown that people have been increasingly seeking out Indigenous experiences to learn more about the cultures and traditions of the Indigenous people in Canada. Consider hiring a local storyteller to share their stories, or incorporate traditional arts and crafts into your wedding invitations or gifts.

Make use of the resources provided by various Indigenous cultural centres to help make your wedding dream come true. It can pay to visit them ahead of time if they have daily tours to get an idea of what they can offer. Involve them in your plans when organizing your cultural wedding.

Seven steps to planning the perfect Indigenous cultural wedding

Once you have decided on bringing in indigenous culture to your wedding its time to start planning. This can certainly be a daunting task, and how can you make sure you have a perfect wedding filled with Indigenous culture? Here we look at seven steps for making sure you can plan the perfect Indigenous cultural wedding:

1. Determine your budget

Critical to any wedding plan is how much money you can realistically afford to spend. Ensure that you take the time to create a budget and allocate money into the various categories that will be required. Here are some of the major expenses involved in a wedding:

    • Venue rental
    • Catering
    • Photography
    • Wedding gowns and other attire

It is important to allocate money into categories you find important so you do not overspend. This leads us to the next step in planning your wedding, which is to identify what is important to you and your family.

2. List your priorities

Unfortunately, being under a budget will mean you cannot have everything. List out what parts of your wedding are most important to you and how much you are willing to spend for it. If you are looking for a truly authentic experience the venue will likely be the most important item in your wedding plan.

Finding an Indigenous venue that also offers services such as catering can greatly simplify the work leading up to your wedding. Here in Alberta, venues such as the Cultural Gathering Centre at Métis Crossing can offer an Indigenous venue, catering, and experience all in one, greatly simplifying planning and coordination between various parties.

3. Find a cultural venue

In order to incorporate Indigenous culture and heritage into your wedding, nothing could be more important than the venue that you choose. When researching venues, look for and ask about the following:

  • Capacity
  • Availability
  • Privacy
  • Indoor / Outdoor spaces
  • Services (catering, audio/visual)
  • Parking & Accommodation

Inquire if the venue has people that can work with you to help add their Indigenous culture and heritage into your wedding, particularly if you or your partner are not Indigenous. You want a location that can help you to make sure the cultural elements you include are both authentic and respectful.

4. Identify what cultural elements to include

There are many elements to every culture. When incorporating cultural elements into your wedding it is important to keep them authentic and respectful. Work with the people in your venue of choice to identify what elements you want to be included in your wedding. They will be able to guide you through traditional foods, art, decor, and activities.

Also, consider taking the time to pause and reflect on the land’s relationship with the First Peoples in Canada. Include a land acknowledgement to show reconciliation, respect, and goodwill. Involve an Elder who can guide you with wording and pronunciation.

5. Hire your photographer and other artists

One thing that you will take with you from your wedding will be photos. These can form a critical part of the memories and stories you will have of your wedding for your friends and family. Photographers, as well as other artists such as musicians, can be booked months in advance, so make sure you book them as soon as you have a date set and not leave it to the last minute.

6. Invite your guests

No wedding would be complete without your friends and family present as you give your vows. Use the wedding invitation to tell your guests what the theme of the wedding will be through artwork and design that highlights the culture and heritage you are incorporating into your wedding.

7. The final check

All is set, planned, and purchased. You have everything laid out and now you will need to do a final check to make sure everything will go smoothly. Contact your venues, caterers, artists and confirm that everything is ready so that on your wedding day all you will need to do is breath, relax, and have a perfect day you can remember forever.

Why the Métis culture is perfect for your big day

The Métis can bring a unique history, culture, and heritage to your wedding day. Here in Alberta, the new Cultural Gathering Centre located at Métis crossing offers a fantastic venue for such an event. Its indoor and outdoor spaces will provide a strong cultural and spiritual environment with ties to the land, and its people will bring the benefits of Métis culture to you day. Here we shall take a brief look at the history of the Métis and explore its culture and what it can bring to your wedding day.

Métis history

The Métis are descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada and have grown into a new and distinct Indigenous people. Along with First Nations and Inuit, the Métis are one of three distinct Indigenous Peoples of Canada recognized by the 1982 Constitution Act with a population of over 450,000 in Canada

Well before Alberta was a province, many Métis communities were well established in many areas of Western Canada. The Métis started to organize themselves politically starting in 1928. Alberta has the largest Métis population in the country with over 114,000 Métis People living in the province.

The Métis have a rich culture and heritage

There is much that Métis culture can bring to your wedding. From signature experiences to traditional workshops, to cuisine each can be incorporated into your wedding day.

Guests can be involved in guided, cultural, interpretive experiences that share the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people. Many of our experiences are seasonal, so whether you want your wedding in the warmth of summer, or during the beautiful winters of Alberta, Métis Crossing has much to offer.

Our traditional workshops include arts and crafts like beading or finger weaving as well as the traditional Métis Capote - a beautiful coat made from a wool blanket that is a staple of Métis winter survival.

The approach to Métis cuisine has been a fusion from both European and First Nations traditions. As traditional hunters, buffalo has been the primary food source in addition to moose, elk, prairie bush rabbits, and wild birds. Along with wild berries, wild plants, and the traditional bannock, our chef and his Indigenous culinary team will create unforgettable meals for your wedding day.

Métis Crossing & its Cultural Gathering Certre

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta and is the premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Sitting on 512 acres of land, including river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to the region in the late 1800s, the crossing is designed to engage and excite visitors through an exploration of Métis cultural experiences.

The new Cultural Gathering Centre designed by Métis Architect Tiffany Shaw-Collinge was recently completed in 2020 utilizing traditional craftsmanship and modern materials. Combining the functionality of a contemporary building and the architecture characteristic of the river lot homes of the fur trade era, it is a year-round destination focused on Métis story and culture. 

The current facilities at Métis Crossing make it an ideal venue for all types of private events looking to showcase Métis culture and heritage. We are continually growing, with future plans in place for Métis Crossing to include a lodge, traditional gardens, and various demonstrations to allow visitors to explore and experience Métis culture.

As part of your wedding planning, come and spend a day at Métis Crossing to learn about our culture and how we can help bring it to your special day. Métis Crossing strives to represent and share elements of Métis culture, pride of culture and respect (with self-identification), family reconnection and reconciliation, sacredness of place, empathy, and acknowledgement. Contact us to speak with a representative about your future wedding or event plans.

Métis Crossing Summer Student Program

If you had the chance to visit Métis Crossing this past Summer season, you probably met some of our wonderful summer students! From acting as our interpreters for the Meet the Métis Experience, to helping out in the kitchen, our summer students were essential to helping Métis Crossing run successfully!

We are so pleased that we were able to keep this program operational, in spite of the challenges presented by COVID19. The contribution of our summer students has been invaluable to Métis Crossing and we can not wait to welcome a new team in 2021. 

Keep reading this blog post to hear about some of our students’ experiences.

Larissa

How did you become involved with MC?
I became involved with Metis Crossing when I applied to be a summer student in the summer of 2019.

What was your favourite part of your summer at MC?
My favorite part of this summer was learning traditional living skills in a hands-on way and being able to share it with visitors and Métis people alike.

What did you learn about Métis culture that you didn’t know before?
This year I was able to solidify a lot of knowledge within traditional plant use. I had not known before how expansive this type knowledge is and how a lot of what we do as Métis people is deeply rooted within the land. I also learned valuable skills on how to manage groups and plan big events. I have achieved an array of skills that will definitely help me throughout my life.

Describe your experience at MC in three words:
1. Thought provoking
2. Exciting
3. Fun!

What skills did you learn that you will take away with you?
I have learned valuable skills on how to manage groups and plan big events. I have achieved an array of skills that will definitely help me throughout my life.

What do you hope a visitor will leave knowing that they didn’t know before?
I hope visitors will leave knowing that Métis people are more abundant and complex than they might think. We exist in places you may not expect and carry a strong sense of culture wherever we go!

Maria

How did you become involved with MC?
I became involved with Métis Crossing through the interpreter summer job. I applied because I thought it would be a great way to learn more Métis culture and history.

What was your favourite part of your summer at MC?
My favourite part this summer was the connection with my history that I got to make. I loved learning the traditional arts and skills as well at the history that we got to interpreter through the areas on site.

What did you learn about Métis culture that you didn’t know before?
Quite a lot. My own knowledge coming in was essentially a combination of what was taught in school but also the small snippets that I got to learn from family members. I learned not only about our history, but also our habits and some values. But my favorite was the traditional arts and the beliefs and values that went around those.

Describe your experience at MC in three words:
1. Invigorating
2. Empowering
3. Entertaining

What skills did you learn that you will take away with you?
I learned how to start a fire and kind face my fears about using an axe, so that was sweet. But I have already continued on with my beading skills, I have several projects on the go. I also have a goal to get better at finger weaving before summer of 2021.

What do you hope a visitor will leave knowing that they didn’t know before?
I hope that they will walk with a better understanding of who the Métis are. There is a lot of interpretation out there and varying opinions, so have the ability to be in an environment that encourages people to ask questions to clear their understanding is very important, so I hope that is what they can find and learn at Métis Crossing.

A big thank you to all of our Summer students and we wish you the very best in your bright futures ahead!

 

Mural at Métis Crossing by Métis artist Stephan Gladue supported by our partner Husky Energy

Métis Crossing is Alberta’s first major Métis cultural destination, offering visitors educational experiences, gathering spaces, and business development opportunities. When you visit Métis Crossing you will be immersed in the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people and take part in authentic cultural experiences and activities.

Métis Crossing is pleased to be supported by a contribution from Husky Energy, one of our Threads of the Sash community partners. Husky recognizes the diversity of Indigenous Peoples and communities and has made it a priority to understand different Indigenous histories and cultures with the goal of creating mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships. Husky supports Indigenous initiatives that promote healthy communities, sustainable development and capacity building.

Husky’s contribution to Métis Crossing supported the work of Métis artist Stephen Gladue as he created a meaningful and beautiful mural inside the new Métis Crossing Cultural Gathering Centre.

“For companies like Husky, it’s important that our relationships with Indigenous communities are founded in respect, cooperation and encourage the right to self-determination, which we actively support through education and economic development,” says Janet Annesley, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Human Resources. “Our support of Métis Crossing is one of the many ways Husky demonstrates its commitment to our shared journey to Reconciliation.”

 

Q&A with Stephen Gladue:

Q: Stephen, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into this type of artistry?

A: I became involved in artwork at a very early age. When I was growing up, I took notice that there was not a great deal of representation from the indigenous community, let alone the Métis people. Growing up where I did, I was encouraged to fill that void. Some time later after my schooling and getting myself established as a creative in the film and television world, I returned to my roots and began creating a few pieces that were aboriginal specific, this ultimately led to the creation of a few recognizable works in the Métis community.

Q: Why did the Métis Crossing project interest you?
A: The Mural at Metis Crossing was important to me as it will be housed by one of the greatest structures currently existing within the Métis community.
The importance of the Métis Crossing Cultural Gathering Centre is not lost on me and when I was approached to do this project I was thrilled, knowing full well that at one point or another the entire Métis community will see this piece.

Q: What does the mural represent? Can you describe some of the different elements?
A: I focused on traditional motifs and themes for this piece, the thought behind the work was that it should incorporate both the history and the present. From Voyageurs traversing across eastern waters to the evening celebrations in the plains. Each subject painted adorns traditional garments from head to toe.

I wanted to incorporate a sash obviously, so I created one of the largest most detailed ones I have personally ever seen. Some of the last details that I added were both Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont, I put them in the clouds looking out over the entire piece. Lastly, I added a few constellations that have cultural significance in the deepest parts of the skies.

Métis Crossing Lodge Ground-Breaking

Métis Crossing Breaks Ground on Expansion Project, Including New 40-Room Boutique Lodge, With Support from The Government of Alberta And Métis Nation of Alberta

Métis Crossing receives $1 million investment from the Government of Alberta, expanding offerings to include a 40-room boutique lodge, cementing their position as the premier destination for Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development in Alberta.

For Immediate Release
October 5, 2020, Smoky Lake, Alberta – Métis Crossing has broken ground on a new 40-room boutique lodge, expanding upon the recently completed Cultural Gathering Centre. The Government of Alberta has made an investment of $1 million to support the development of the site, further bolstering Métis Crossing as a premier destination for Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development in Northern Alberta.

“Métis Crossing is continuing to expand. It is a reflection of the interest and demand we are seeing for Indigenous experiences in Alberta,” said Juanita Marois, Executive Director, Métis Crossing. “Everyone at Métis Crossing is thrilled that the Government of Alberta has recognized the value in Indigenous Tourism and in what we offer here at Métis Crossing. They have stepped up in such a major way to support Métis Crossing as a destination for Métis cultural interpretation.”

The new 40-room lodge is expected to be operational by summer 2021, complimenting the recently completed Cultural Gathering Centre on the 512-acre historic Métis river lot site. These combined facilities will offer visitors the opportunity to stay overnight, experiencing all that Métis Crossing and the Smoky Lake region have to offer.

This investment is important for the diversification of Alberta’s economy – not only does it expand the province’s tourism offerings, it also creates seasonal and permanent job opportunities in a regional area.

“Métis Crossing has been a dream of Alberta’s Métis for decades. With support from Alberta and other partners, we have built a place where Albertans and tourists can experience the exciting culture of Alberta’s Métis. With this new lodge, Métis Crossing elevates the Indigenous tourism experience in our province,” said Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

“Métis Crossing is an important gathering place that showcases the history of a proud people—the Métis Nation of Alberta. Adding a 40-room boutique-style lodge to Métis Crossing means more visitors will be able to enjoy the cultural activities.

It also means more jobs for the local economy, helping grow Alberta’s tourism industry and boost year-round visits across the province,” said, Rick Wilson, Minister of Indigenous Relations.

Métis Crossing is pleased to be working closely with the Government of Alberta and the Smoky Lake municipalities as a contributing partner and destination in their Economic Development Strategy. The recently developed strategy will work to grow regional tourism by providing support for Métis Crossing, facilitating other investments across the sector and developing a tourism system that drives economic growth in the region. Preliminary economic impact projections developed by the municipality show the potential for between 300 and 700 jobs created in the region over the next 10 years.

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About Métis Crossing
Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive destination in Alberta and the premier destination for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings and business development. Sitting on 512-acres of land, comprised of river lot titles from the original Métis settlers to the region in the late 1800s, the Crossing is designed to engage and excite visitors through an exploration of Métis cultural experiences.

The Métis Crossing site was purchased by the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA), with support from Canative Housing Corporation and the Belcourt Brosseau Foundation, almost 20 years ago. Métis Crossing continues to operate as an affiliate of the MNA.
About the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA)
Established in 1928, the MNA is the democratically elected government of the Métis Nation within Alberta that seeks to advance the socio-economic and cultural well-being of the Métis people of Alberta.

To learn more about the Métis Crossing visit: http://www.metiscrossing.com

Media Contact:
Brad Stables, Director Marketing & Communications
CIPR Communications
P: 403.993.7016
E: brad@ciprcommunication.com

Cenovus Skills Barn

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive destination in Alberta offering visitors Métis educational experiences, gathering spaces, and business development opportunities. When you visit Métis Crossing you will be immersed in the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people and take part in authentic cultural experiences and activities.

The Skills Barn at Métis Crossing was supported by contributions from our Threads of the Sash community partner Cenovus Energy. The Skills Barn is a place for learning, connecting and sharing traditional Métis skills. Visitors to the Skills Barn should expect to experience interpretative activities including traditional woodworking techniques, fishing techniques, hide tanning and trapping demonstrations.

 “Métis Crossing is an incredible resource for our province and our country that celebrates Metis culture and educates the public on their rich and important history.”  – Leanne Courchesne, Group Lead Community Investment at Cenovus

“Our hope is that the skills barn will showcase a wide range of skills, art and culture that Métis people have contributed to our society. Opportunities like this go a long way to help us understand each other better, a key and important component of achieving reconciliation.” – Leanne Courchesne, Group Lead Community Investment at Cenovus

Métis Crossing is thrilled to offer visitors the opportunity to participate in traditional skills diving deeper into the early life of the Métis People. The Skills Barn is important as it connects us to the past through a hands-on approach. Visitors will walk in the footsteps of our ancestors and gain an understanding of how they created life for themselves, through tradition, resilience and what was available to them through nature and their relationship with the land. This provides deeper understanding and appreciation to the early Métis way of life.

Métis Crossing is thrilled to have a partner in Cenovus, a company that strives to support programs and initiatives that help build strong families and safe sustainable communities. A big part of their focus is on supporting Indigenous traditions.

As we embark on this relationship, both Métis Crossing and Cenovus are excited to see what can be achieved through this partnership and look forward to providing a meaningful cultural experience for visitors. We believe this partnership will highlight and celebrate Métis Culture and hope that this partnership can continue to focus on education and supporting all people, allowing us all to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of Métis culture.

Canadian Multiculturalism Day

June 27, 2020 is Canadian Multiculturalism day. This is a day to discover the various cultures that bring Canadian society to life by participating in the many activities happening across the country. Métis Crossing encourages everyone to take advantage of this day as an opportunity to discover and appreciate the wealth and diversity of Canadian society.

Métis Crossing is the first major Métis cultural interpretive centre in Alberta offering visitors an immersive Métis cultural experience through interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development.

Métis people are proud to be one of the many cultures celebrated in Canada. While the Métis carry a distinct Indigenous story, we celebrate the diversity of all Canadians. Keep reading to learn a little bit about the Metis people and our heritage.

What does it mean to be Métis?

Of course being Métis means something different to anyone, but from a technical perspective it means a person who self-identifies as Metis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.

The Métis are one of three distinct Aboriginal peoples of Canada recognized under the 1982 Canadian Constitution. During the Fur Trade (1670-1870), the Métis were known to be fiercely independent and instrumental in the development of western Canada.

What does the word Métis mean?

The word Métis comes from the Latin term “miscere” (to mix) and was used initially to describe the children of Native women and French men. Over time, the word “Métis” became the accepted term attributed to all children born to Native women and European men.

What is Rupert’s Land?

Rupert’s Land is a vast territory named after Prince Rupert of Rhine, a cousin of Charles II, and the first appointed Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Métis quickly became the intermediaries between European and Indian cultures; working as guides, interpreters, fur traders and provisioners to the new forts and trading companies. Métis villages sprang up along the riverways from the Great Lakes to the Mackenzie Delta. The Rupert’s Land territory included all or parts of present-day Northwest-Nunavut Territory, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and became known to the Métis as the “Métis Homeland.”

What are some distinct Métis cultural elements?

Métis culture is a fusion of French, English, Scottish and Indian influences, and took root and flourished in the late 1800s. The Métis developed a unique language called Michif, using both Indian nouns, and English or French verbs. Métis fiddlers combined jigs and reels into their unique forms of dance and music. Métis women created intricately decorated attire included woven sashes, embroidered gun sheaths, deer hide caps, quilled and beaded pipe bags, and the capote, a European-style coat made from Hudson Bay point blankets. The sale of these items often contributed to the income earned by the Métis family.

For more information regarding the history of the Métis people visit:

https://www.rupertsland.org/metis-homeland/

Summer 2020 – Camping at Métis Crossing

Métis Crossing offers camping overlooking the beautiful North Saskatchewan River. This is the perfect way to experience Métis Crossing. By spending the night with us, you can explore and experience the Meet the Métis guided tour during the day and spend your night on site.

Métis Crossing is taking the following precautions to ensure that visitors and employees are doing their part to stay safe during this difficult time. These measures include:

  • RVs will maintain a 30’ distance between other RV sites;
  • Campsites will only be rented to campers with Recreational Vehicles which have their own functioning toilet, shower and holding tanks in order to keep the occupants isolated from others;
  • No Tent camping will be allowed; until deemed appropriate by the government of Alberta and public health officials;
  • RV’s need to have running water and a source of power;
  • Campers will be made aware of the sanitation dump in Smoky Lake at the Centex;
  • All stand-alone comfort-stations (washrooms and showers) will be CLOSED;
  • Park entrance will be secured by a physical barrier when not staffed by an attendant;
  • Campers are responsible for placing their own garbage into the dumpster, no collection services;
  • Campers will have to understand and sign a code of conduct agreement upon check in;
  • Métis Crossing Campground will offer contact free registration options.

Métis Crossing is excited to re-open on July 2, 2020, welcoming campers to the site. We will go above and beyond to respectfully ensure campers adhere to social distancing and all other public health recommendations ensuring the safety of all campers, visitors and staff. Métis Crossing is excited to re-open on July 2, 2020, welcoming campers to the site. We will go above and beyond to respectfully ensure campers adhere to social distancing and all other public health recommendations ensuring the safety of all campers, visitors and staff.

Summer 2020 at Métis Crossing

As a premier centre for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Our overarching goal is:

Ensuring that the health and safety of staff and visitors is top priority.
To achieve this, Métis Crossing will be following all public health orders and measures outlined by the province of Alberta and the Métis Nation of Alberta.

This includes:

  • Communication related to Covid-19;
  • Procedures for Staff or Visitors who are sick, visiting, or camping;
  • Prevention measures (including screening, hygiene, cleaning, capacity of areas and physical distancing measures, and essential infrastructure to minimize transmission).

That is why beginning July 2, 2020, Métis Crossing will re-open to visitors, offering limited interpretive programming and camping options. Operating in accordance with provincial guidelines, Métis Crossing interpretive programming will be limited to our signature Meet the Métis program, providing isolated family units and small groups a socially distant interpretive experience.

Our Meet the Métis program is the perfect way for your family or isolated cohort to experience the beauty of the over 500 acres of wide-open spaces at Métis Crossing. Along with your close friends and family you will receive a private guided tour experience, connecting you with the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis people. Our Summer 2020 Meet the Métis package is the perfect family experience and includes:

  • A guided interpretive tour that will include an introduction to Métis Crossing, the Métis peoples, and their heritage.
  • A walking tour of traditional lands, camps and trappers cabin by our Métis Knowledge Holder, including:
    • An overview of traditional seasonal practices and their importance to the Métis people, as well as demonstrations of art, stories, and history;
    • A walk to the Sinclair and Cromarty Houses and Gardens;
    • An introduction to the families, their history’s, and an exploration of their houses;
    • A Garden tour.
  • Explore the Riverwalk Trail, including:
    • Medicine/Food walk
    • Traditional Games
    • Walk to Homer’s Place, including:
      • Fiddling and jigging demonstrations
      • Stories of the importance of music, dance, and celebration
      • Evolution of the jig
      • Jigging lesson
      • Traditional Arts and Crafts

All tours are isolated to individual groups (you will only interact with the individuals you arrived with), making Meet the Métis the ideal get away for you and your cohorts.

Packages are available by pre-booking only. Beginning June 22, 2020 at 9:00am Métis Crossing will be accepting bookings for the signature Meet the Métis program. Bookings will be available to groups of 10 or less and all bookings will be allocated a reserved date and time for their private tour experience.

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