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Métis Nation of Alberta marks historic return of bison to traditional lands at new Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park

April 4, 2022

A Blessing ceremony welcomed the return of Bison to Traditional Métis lands at Métis Crossing

Smoky Lake, AB – April 4, 2022 – Last month, the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) coordinated the transportation of 20 wood bison from Elk Island National Park to the Wildlife Park at Métis Crossing, Alberta’s first major Métis cultural interpretive destination. The effort is part of a bison education and experience program led by the MNA in partnership with Elk Island.

“This is a historic moment for Métis citizens in Alberta,” said MNA President Audrey Poitras. “Although native to the Métis Crossing area, wild bison or ‘bufloo’ in Michif, were driven to near extinction by settlers in the nineteenth-century, forcing Métis bison hunts to a halt. The return of bison to this area marks a milestone in reconciliation.”

After familiarizing at Métis Crossing’s partner facility, the bison will be released this summer to roam Métis Crossing’s 320-acre Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park. The wood bison join Métis Crossing’s existing herd of 48 bison onsite.

“Bison were a vital food source for Métis peoples and communal bison hunts were Métis tradition and formed the bedrock of Métis society,” said Juanita Marois, CEO of Métis Crossing. “It was at these gatherings that Métis democratic and judicial systems developed through ‘Laws of the Buffalo Hunt.’ The loss of the bison was felt deeply by Métis peoples.”

Today, Elk Island National Park is one of the world’s preeminent bison conservation facilities, home to approximately 400 plains bison and 300 wood bison. As Parks Canadaust actively manage bison populations within Elk Island, redistribution to Métis Crossing benefits both parties.

“We’re grateful to play a role in this process as we’re helping restore and renew connections between bison and Indigenous peoples,” said Elk Island National Park Superintendent Dale Kirkland.

Please find a folder of images and video interviews here for media use.

About the MNA
The MNA was established in 1928 to advance the interests of Alberta Métis based on Métis rights, including, the right to self-determination and self-government. The MNA is governed by a democratically elected Provincial Council, comprised of a Provincial President and Vice President and six regional Presidents and Vice Presidents. The MNA maintains the only province-wide, objectively verifiable and federally recognized registry of Métis Nation citizens living within Alberta.  In June 2019, the MNA and the Government of Canada signed the Métis Government Recognition and Self-Government Agreement, which recognizes the Métis Nation within Alberta’s inherent right to self-government.

About Métis Crossing
Métis Crossing is a major initiative of the Métis Nation of Alberta. It is the premier destination for Alberta Métis cultural interpretation, education, gatherings, and business development. Our 688 acres site is designed to engage and excite visitors. Our programming encourages active participation of visitors in activities promoting an appreciation of our people, customs, and celebrations.

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