Kristin Catherwood, Director of Living Heritage
It was a good day on Friday, April 5th at the Eastview Community Centre in Regina as members of the Métis community, including lii vyeu pi lii vyay Michif (Michif Old Ones), students and faculty from Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP), and staff from Heritage Saskatchewan and the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) gathered to celebrate the launch of the publication, gee meeyo pimawtshinawn (It Was a Good Life): Saskatchewan Métis Road Allowance Memories. This latest living heritage project was a collaborative effort between Heritage Saskatchewan and the GDI to document living heritage of road allowance settlements in Saskatchewan.
More than 80 people gathered that afternoon to celebrate Michif cultural heritage. First-year students from SUNTEP (the Sun Steppers) performed traditional dances, called by Jeanne Pelletier. Joe Welsh spoke on behalf of lii vyeu pi lii vyay Michif to welcome the gathering and express the importance of preserving Michif memories and ways-of-life for future generations. Russell Fayant and Brenna Pacholko, SUNTEP faculty and editors of the publication, brought greetings, and I shared a few words from Heritage Saskatchewan. We were fortunate to have several SaskCulture staff and board members in attendance to share in the celebration of this publication, as well as Karen Schmon who made the trip from Saskatoon to represent the GDI.
This publication was produced from third-year students at SUNTEP, and several shared some words about their experiences working on the project. Logan Boyer and Kayla Ward spoke about the process for creating the art for the publication. Kaleb Desjarlais and Dee Aubichon told us about their experiences interviewing lii vyeu pii lii vyay Michif and interpreting their stories through writing. Tristan Frei and Paige LaRose read to us their stories from the publication. I don't think I was the only one with a lump in my throat.
I certainly wasn't the only one clapping and tapping my toes as the Sun Steppers treated us to another dance performance, and I definitely wasn't the only one who rushed to partake of homemade goodies following the official program. We were treated to cookies and snacks crafted by SUNTEP students, and most specially, to bannock baked on-site from a family recipe provided by Dani Lavalley. We finished the afternoon visiting each other and enjoying the beautiful artwork created by the students. Everyone present took a booklet home with them. It was one of those good days to be remembered for a long time.
For more information on this project and to see the publication for yourself, visit this link: https://heritagesask.ca/projects/metis-road-allowance-memories
Thank you to SUNTEP, GDI, SaskCulture, and the Michif community who made this meaningful living heritage project possible.