By Matthew Liebenberg
The Chinook Regional Library hosted several fun activities in Maple Creek and Swift Current during March to celebrate Métis culture and traditions.
There was a good turnout at these events, held during each weekend in March. Each event took place on the same day at the different libraries, with the morning event in Swift Current and the afternoon event in Maple Creek.
It kicked off on March 5 with a Red River cart building workshop presented by well-known cart builder George Fayant. Métis artist Tekeyla Friday, who also works at the Chinook Regional Library and coordinated the Métis Month of March initiative, presented the two-part traditional beading workshop on March 12 and 19.
The final event on March 26 was a traditional Métis jigging workshop presented by Amy Seesequasis and Angel Prosper, who are members of the acclaimed Creeland Dancers dancing group.
Chinook Regional Library Director Kathryn Foley hopes the regional library will be able to host this celebration of Métis culture and traditions again next year.
“I would really like to see it happening every year, because I think people are just starting to want to do things and there would be more people who would be willing to try it, especially knowing that others have gone ahead of them,” she said. “So I would really like to see more people involved in doing it again next year, but that will depend on funding, because we were very well helped with funding this year.”
The regional library received funding from the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Sask Lotteries and SaskCulture. The initiative was supported by Métis Nation Saskatchewan Western Region 3 and the Swift Current Métis Local.
Friday said the attendance for the different events were good each weekend. She noted that people are still cautious and hesitant due to COVID-19 and attendance can potentially increase if these activities are hosted in the future.
The Chinook Regional Library has made a clear commitment to support reconciliation and these events were therefore part of that goal.
“The library has always been very dedicated to upholding those commitment and with any of the provincial commitments that are passed down,” Friday noted. “It doesn’t matter what it is, but specifically with reconciliation and we do Pride month and those sorts of things too, because we want to be all inclusive. There are no barriers when you come into a library. So anybody can be there, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, what culture you are, anything like that. It’s also showing that we’re willing to work with everyone.”
She felt this initiative helped to create a greater awareness about the culture and traditions of Métis people.
“I thought that was a good way to educate and bring forward the stories that people need to know, and that it gives a really good introduction to what Métis culture is,” she said. “We’ve lost some of our culture and we lost our language. So it’s just trying to rebuild some of that and continue being proud of who we are. And bringing it through an educational facility like the library, we’re able to reach more people and make them feel comfortable with wanting to learn and to bring that out into the open.”