BUFFALO LAKE MÉTIS SETTLEMENT
The settlement was available for Metis settlers since 1938, however due to lack of access; the first settlers did not arrive until 1951. Many of the families that have settled in Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement relocated from other areas in the region with a dominant Métis presence, including Lac La Biche Mission, North Buck Lake, Kikino, East Prairie, including other Métis Settlements.
As with Métis settlements, early development at Buffalo Lake depended on hard work and commitment of community members. Elders recall how local men cut logs to build houses, and the first school. Similarly the first office building and hall were built by settlement members. The first hall built was called, “Sinclair Hall” named after one of the early settlers; his name was Ephraim Sinclair.
Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement is a young community, which has grown rapidly since the arrival of the first settlers in 1951. The Metis have a unique and diverse culture which is woven through the fabric of time. They have come a long way from where they once were. In the beginning the Metis were self reliant, and prosperous. However they were stripped of their home lands, and the buffalo were destroyed- killed off to near extinction, starvation and poverty soon became a reality. The Metis never gave up, they struggled through the hard times but persevered, striving to attain self government and secure lands for their people. Today the Metis enjoy a better quality of life and we owe our deepest gratitude to the hard work and dedication of our founding fathers.
A MÉTIS WAY OF LIFE
Métis families enjoy outdoor activities; women and children gather berries to make jams and jellies, men go hunting or fishing. Parents and grandparents make time to have fun with their children and grand children. It is no surprise to find elders living with their families.
Hunting and fishing is the Métis way of life, hunting for sustenance and not for sport, never wasting anything and sharing with those in need. Trapping is not as lucrative as it once was, however several people still trap for an extra source of income. Families gather a variety of herbs, roots, and plants for medicinal purposes.
Métis Cuisine is a mixture of recipes developed over the years, with a blend of both European and First Nations influence. Métis kitchens are usually the main area of the family home and where family visit while cooking and entertaining guests and other family members.
The following are just a few of the traditional foods that are still found in kitchens throughout our Métis communities today; bannock, moose stew, fry dough bread, smoked fish, poutine au sac (pudding in a bag), and dry meat (usually moose).
English and Cree are the most used languages; however some people still speak Michif which is a blend of Cree and French languages.
Buffalo Lake Holy Rosary Catholic Church
Contact: Horace Patenaude – Phone: (780)-689-2153
Buffalo Lake Evangelical Church
Contact: Lois Ladouceur – Phone: (780)-689-2521
Buffalo Lake Family Tabernacle
Contact: Cindy McDonald – Phone: (780)-689-2671
There is little confusion about the importance of Métis bead work. The colorful designs and creations are distinct and are typically compositions of local and European flowers and are clear in image. These creations are very different from those of other Aboriginal groups and are readily recognized as being Métis. Often people could, and still can determine who had done the bead work by a particular style they used. Métis attended mission schools and came into contact with the Grey Nuns from Europe. The Grey Nuns carried with them the floral silk embroidery traditions from France. These techniques and patterns impressed the Métis who in turn incorporated them into traditional Aboriginal porcupine quill and fish scale art designs. The results were the foundation of brilliant, symmetrical and delicate floral Métis creations.
Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement is fortunate to havemanyMétis Artisans who are truly gifted; producing beautiful works of art, making crafts and jewelry that require precision work with intricate detail. These pieces of art are one of a kind. Artisans craft beautiful Métis Dolls, jewelry, wall hangings, moccasins, gloves and jackets. Some women have developed the skills needed to do moose hair tufting, traditional porcupine quillwork, and fish scale art designs which is time consuming and painstaking work that requires great patience and a steady hand.
TRADITIONAL MÉTIS MUSIC AND DANCE
Traditional musical instruments of the Métis includes the fiddle and guitar, the concertina, harmonica, hand drum, the mouth harp, and finger instruments such as spoons or bones. The favorite was the fiddle, and in the early days fiddles were hard to find and very expensive. Often Métis made their own fiddles from maple and birch woods. Unlike other forms of music traditional Métis style fiddling is not contained in a bar structure so this creates a bounce to the tune that is unique across Canada.
Métis style fiddle is an oral and hands on taught tradition passed down for many centuries. The fiddle plays the melody and tells the story, several Métis legends are recorded in fiddle tunes. Dancing to the rhythm is supplied by toe tapping or spoons and the uneven irregular beats of the fiddle, creates the bounce in Métis jigging that is as distinctive and unique as the fiddling itself. The extra beats make the Métis Jig a rapid moving dance and though similar to the Scots-Irish step dance, the Métis Jig is definitely a unique style of its own. The Red River Jig is one of the most popular dances created by the Métis.
Métis is a Canadian of mixed descent; in Canada, somebody of mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry. A Métis is defined by the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 as an Aboriginal person.
Buffalo Lake Metis Settlement Tradition Land Use Study
Buffalo Lake is developing a traditional land use study, when this comprehensive study is completed, it will serve the community as documented evidence and provide historical data. The Elders provide essential historical information that will be kept and passed on to provide future generations with knowledge of their traditional home lands. This study will ensure that future leaders have important data in order to protect traditional lands from negative environmental impacts.
People from Buffalo Lake have ancestral burial sites that need to be protected, many of which are located at North Buck Lake and surrounding areas. This evidence based study will be retained by Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement and utilized during any consultation undertaken on proposed developments. The impact of various developmental projects and activities where ATV’s and other sports vehicles have been used, has left a negative impact on our land and a variety of plants, grasses and berries have been destroyed. Wild life has diminished, hunting for sustenance is increasingly difficult, and Métis hunters must travel further and further in order to harvest wild game. Fishing is not as plentiful as it was in years past; lakes, rivers, creeks and marsh lands have been negatively impacted. Buffalo Lake members will * ensure that their traditional land is protected from further destruction and that it is kept intact for future generations.