Passage

An homage to a lesser-known side of Canada

Métis Crossing, Alberta

© Roam Creative

© Roam Creative

A lot of travellers make a beeline for the Rocky Mountains once they arrive in Alberta. I like to encourage people to take in some other parts of the province before they head west. The prairie landscapes harbour a number of hidden gems that often go overlooked. Whether it's finding a picturesque old grain elevator, seeing the striking canyons of the Canadian Badlands or, in the case of a trip I took last winter, discovering a beautiful spot along the North Saskatchewan River with an immersive cultural experience.

If you haven't heard of Métis Crossing, allow me to introduce you to this one-of-a-kind Indigenous experience.

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

An hour and a half north east of Edmonton, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River, Métis Crossing is Canada's first Métis cultural destination. It's a place to share the strength and warmth of the Métis people and to experience their art, food and culture.

"We wanted a place to come together and to share and celebrate our Métis story with each other as Métis people, but also with the rest of the world," says Juanita Marois, the CEO of Métis Crossing and a citizen of Alberta’s Métis Nation.

"Our leaders have been talking about it for decades and over time we decided what we wanted it to look like."

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

The Métis are one of Canada's three distinct Indigenous Peoples (alongside First Nations and Inuit).

"We are the children of the fur trade," Juanita says.

Métis are descendants of people with mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, who, over time developed a distinct culture, language and governance.

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

The experiences at Métis Crossing change by the season, based around traditional activities for the time of year. 

You can visit just for the day, or stay the night. In the winter time, there is a skating rink, tubing hill and over 600 acres of land to explore by foot or snowshoe or cross country ski trails in 1, 3 and 4 km loops.  In the evenings a fire pit keeps you warm outdoors and there's a covered area where stories are told and bannock is cooked.

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

You can elevate your stay and meet the Métis with curated immersive cultural experiences. Opt to hear some stories from the trap line and experience first hand how the Métis survived on the land. Or, get a glimpse of the world's only white bison herd and learn how the Bison are central to Métis culture as both a food source and for Nation building.

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

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Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Surrounded by nature, Métis Crossing is great place to slow down and stay a while. A two-night stay lets you take in both the culture and the nature at a good pace. To keep you comfortable there is a 40-room boutique lodge.

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

For a more unique stay, cozy up in a sky watching dome for an intimate connection with the sky and the stars in an area that has almost zero light pollution.

Photo: Roam Creative

Photo: Roam Creative

Paired with the comfortable accommodations is a warm culinary experience, with chefs inviting you to understand the Métis story through your tastebuds.

Photo: Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Photo: Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Like their experiential programs, the meals change with the seasons and many ingredients are harvested from their own land.

Photo: Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Photo: Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

Photo: Jay R. McDonald

I'm a big believer that Indigenous tourism is an opportunity to bring people together. It creates a space to share knowledge and experiences and to ask questions so we can grow understanding.

Métis Crossing does this in a positive way by immersing guests and sharing the warmth and strength of Metis culture in a beautiful, natural setting. The next time you are in the prairies, it is well worth the visit.

Aubrey Reine

Aubrey is the Product Director at Landsby. He grew up in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies and now makes his home in Vancouver with his wife and two kids. His column, Passage, is an homage to a lesser-known side of Canada.

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