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CTV: Alberta Métis celebrate 7 bison calves born on traditional lands

March 13, 2024

Seven new arrivals at the 129-hectare Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park are being described as “historic” and a “milestone for reconciliation.”

Wood buffalo calves were recently born at the park northeast of Edmonton, joining a herd of 20 wood bison, 17 plains bison, 17 white bison, 25 elk and 20 Percheron horses who roam the area.

“Although native to the Métis Crossing area, wild bison were driven to near extinction by settlers in the nineteenth century, forcing Métis bison hunts to a halt,” said Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras.

“Bison hunting has always played a role in our history and extends back to when we organized ourselves to govern our bison hunting expeditions with sustainability and preservation in mind.”

The births follow the transfer of 20 wood bison last year from Elk Island National Park.

Métis Crossing worked with a local rancher to reintegrate the bison. The park’s CEO said he played country music to calm them down, something they still love.

“Certainly when we have our very own first baby bison and there was a lot of, ‘We had a baby today!’ So the excitement was immense,” Juanita Marois told CTV News Edmonton during a tour on Thursday.

Seven new arrivals at the 129-hectare Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park are being described as “historic” and a “milestone for reconciliation.”

Wood buffalo calves were recently born at the park northeast of Edmonton, joining a herd of 20 wood bison, 17 plains bison, 17 white bison, 25 elk and 20 Percheron horses who roam the area.

“Although native to the Métis Crossing area, wild bison were driven to near extinction by settlers in the nineteenth century, forcing Métis bison hunts to a halt,” said Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras.

“Bison hunting has always played a role in our history and extends back to when we organized ourselves to govern our bison hunting expeditions with sustainability and preservation in mind.”

The births follow the transfer of 20 wood bison last year from Elk Island National Park.

Métis Crossing worked with a local rancher to reintegrate the bison. The park’s CEO said he played country music to calm them down, something they still love.

“Certainly when we have our very own first baby bison and there was a lot of, ‘We had a baby today!’ So the excitement was immense,” Juanita Marois told CTV News Edmonton during a tour on Thursday.

“Being able to bring them back here is also us being able to establish our character, our place and us on this land.”

The MNA says prior to their reintegration efforts, the last bison, or “bufloo” in Michif, roamed the area 160 years ago.

Métis Crossing is located about 100 kilometres from Edmonton, near the town of Smoky Lake.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Miriam Valdes-Carletti

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