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Introducing Métis Crossing’s New Bison

August 29, 2023

Earlier this summer, we were thrilled to welcome some adorable new residents to Métis Crossing. The birth of these 7 calves marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to preserve both the environment and the rich cultural heritage of the Métis Nation of Alberta. The births are a first in modern years after 20 wood bison were transferred last year from Elk Island National Park to the 320-acre Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park. The story behind their arrival harks back to a time long past, as well as the determination of the Métis people to reclaim our traditions and land.

The birth of these calves holds profound historical significance, especially for the Métis citizens of Alberta. These magnificent creatures, once native to the Smoky Lake region, were nearly driven to extinction by settlers during the nineteenth century. This tragic loss disrupted the age-old Métis bison hunts and deeply impacted our traditional way of life. But now, thanks to a collaborative and coordinated effort by the Métis Nation of Alberta, a new era of conservation and cultural revitalization has dawned.

The Métis people’s connection with bison stretches far back into our history, deeply woven into our culture and traditions. Bison hunts were more than just a means of sustenance for our people – they were the cornerstone of Métis society, contributing to the development of democratic and judicial systems through the “Laws of the Buffalo Hunt.” The return of these majestic creatures to Métis Crossing creates a special opportunity to share our rich heritage with visitors.

Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta, expressed the depth of this achievement, saying “The return of bison to this area marks a milestone in Reconciliation.” This landmark moment not only reconnects the present with the past, but also honours the ongoing journey for self-determination and self-government that the Métis people have championed since the early 1800s.

Beyond the immediate celebration of these new arrivals, the resurgence of bison at Métis Crossing holds the promise of an exciting future. Our Visions, Hopes, and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park is just one of many attractions that transforms the area into a year-round cultural destination for all Albertans. The new calves live among a herd of 20 wood bison, 17 plains bison, 17 white bison, 25 elk and 20 Percheron horses roaming the grounds. Our team is thrilled to offer guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history, traditions, and stories of Indigenous peoples, providing a meaningful and educational experience that honours the past while building bridges toward the future.

The birth of these calves at Métis Crossing signals not only the reemergence of a vital species but also a resurgence of cultural heritage and pride. This achievement stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the Métis Nation of Alberta to protect our land, our traditions, and the remarkable creatures that once roamed our ancestral territories. As visitors visit this significant area, we invite all to witness the tangible impact of conservation and cultural revitalization, ensuring that the legacy of the bison and the Métis people endures for generations to come.

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