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Sunday , 11 April 2021

Metis Celebrate Heritage

Zone II Regional Council President, Duane Zaraska, during the Metis Open House celebration at the Rupertsland Institute Wednesday.

Local members of a distinct group are celebrating an important anniversary.

Zone II Regional Council of the Metis Nation of Alberta and the Rupertsland Institute hosted a luncheon on Wednesday to celebrate Metis Week.

The event was well-attended and they had door prizes to win your own Metis sash.

Duane Zaraska, president of zone II, Metis Nation of Alberta, says Metis Week is about commemorating the anniversary of Louis Riel’s death.

“It’s the 133rd anniversary of the death of our leader Louis Riel who was put to death in 1885. So there’s different events across the province yesterday. We have open houses across the regions.”

A 6.6km walk was also held near Cooking Lake which signifies the same distance of Louis Riel’s funeral procession.

“Metis Week is about celebrating our culture and our contributions as Metis people,” said Zaraska. “As well as the sacrifices the Metis people made as we moved forward attaining our rights and our recognition as a distinct nation.”

“It’s taken us hundreds of years to get that recognition. It’s been a constant struggle. Since the death of Riel we’ve been fighting.

“Only recently, two years ago, one of our advocates, Harry Daniels took that challenge to Supreme Court, which he started back in the 70s….and in April 2016 we won that court case and we are now one of the three distinct Aboriginal groups in Canada: the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Metis.”

Two months ago, the six regions that make up the Metis Nation of Alberta held their election. Zaraska was serving as vice-president and won the presidency chair for Region II, while Andrea Sandmaier won vice-president.

Zone II covers Lloydminster, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and as far west as Camrose.

Education and Employment Opportunities

One of the main things the Rupertsland Institute does is help Metis people find work. The Metis Centre of Excellence can help Metis individuals with clarifying a job goal, writing resumes, and approaching an employer to find work.

The province-wide institute has two RV vans that travel to various communities across the province and offer these services remotely. That way they can serve more people.

During their Metis Week open house, the RV stopped for a visit.

“What we do is we basically have an office here that we can service the same as we would in there [the office],” said job coach Thea Abdolhady. “If any Metis are looking for employment we can help with resumes. We have an office in the back, so we can offer the same resources, but remotely.”

They also help connect unskilled workers with funding services for training programs, and students in post-secondary studies.

“We can offer them funding to go to school. So if they’re going to be a mechanic we can go and sponsor them and pay for every year they’re going to be a mechanic,” said Abdolhady.

The Rupertsland Institute is an affiliate of the Metis Nation of Alberta. of offices across Alberta.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.