IndigNation | by Bev Cardinal
July, or “Jooyet” in Michif, is such an appropriate word to describe this month of summer joy and celebration — not only for Métis people, but for all Canadians. Yes, the Métis are notorious for historical insurrections and politically charged commotions (Red River Resistance 1869? Riel Resistance 1885? Jim Sinclair calling premiers “racists” at Brian Mulroney’s 1987 Constitutional Conference? Anyone? Anyone?), but we’re also famous for our unique heritage and culture. And boy, do we know how to celebrate!
Back To Batoche
A few years back, the federal government officially dedicated Batoche as a National Historic Site. Trust me, this is a big deal — almost more remarkable than us Métis folks getting “The Self-Government” (whatever that turns out to mean).
In true Government Of Canada form, the feds spent a few million to make Batoche pretty for the public and boost its educational value. All of which is swell. But for decades before that, Saskatchewan’s Métis flocked to this land to attend Back to Batoche Days every summer.
Speaking of which: this year’s festival runs July 18–21!
Whether you go for a day visit or a weekend of camping, Back To Batoche Days is a uniquely marvellous change of pace from other Saskatchewan summer extravaganzas — be they music festivals, street fairs, rodeos, wakeboarding demos, slo-pitch tournaments or beer garden slothfulness. Over the past 40 years, organizers have B2BD (sounds like a Star Wars droid) a full-blown immersive experience of all things Métis: arts, music, dance, food, language, education and commemoration. There’s a Métis Family Feud, and even an, umm, slo-pitch tournament!
You can learn more about this year’s Back To Batoche Days at, yes, backtobatochedays.ca. Shakoowew!
Saskatchewan has produced many of Canada’s greatest traditional Métis fiddlers. I’m thinking of Hap and Dallas Boyer, Brian Sklar, Henry Gardipy and Tahnis Cunningham. But the finest of them all — in my humble Métis opinion — is John Arcand.
And wouldn’t you know it, this year’s annual John Arcand Fiddle Fest takes place Aug. 8–10 at Pike Lake!
Whether you fiddle or simply love great home-grown music, JAFF has concerts, dances, one of Canada’s largest annual fiddle contests, a cultural camp with traditional workshops in Métis finger weaving, beading, storytelling, dancing and a lot more!
Seek further enlightenment on “The Internets” at johnarcandfiddlefest.com.
50 Years Of Sobriety
Congratulations to the Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan Inc. on a half-century of alcohol and drug addiction intervention, rehabilitation, therapy and support to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across our province. MACSI commemorates this notable milestone with a series of Métis Kitchen Parties across the province. If you’re in Regina and like great traditional jigging, square dancing, music, delicious food, lots and lots of visiting and, most importantly, LAUGHTER (“the best medicine”), then mâmawêyatitân centre (3355-6th Avenue) is the place for you on Saturday, July 27. Doors open at 6:00 and things get rolling at 7. You can learn more macsi.ca.
Let’s dance! Niimitaak!