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The Town of St. Paul is doing something historic this weekend.
The Town is raising the Metis flag Saturday morning as part of the opening ceremonies for the 91st Metis National of Alberta General Assembly meeting taking place all weekend.
It is tied to a celebration of 110th anniversary of the settling of St. Paul, which was originally named St-Paul-de-Métis because the community was founded at as a Metis colony before dissolving in the early 1900s.
St. Paul will be the only community in Region Two – which extends from Camrose to Lloydminster and just north of Cold Lake – to have the Metis flag raised permanently.
Region Two is the host for the annual general meeting, and they approached the town to see if they wanted to host.
“It’s very exciting that they [Metis Nation of Alberta] are wanting to participate in that and encouraged us to do so,” said Maureen Miller.
“The purpose of the town encouraging and supporting that opportunity is to respect the heritage that we actually have here,” she said.
The weekend is full of activities a trade and craft show, food trucks, bouncy castles, a jamboree, magic performed by Donovan Day and live music at the St. Paul Recreation Centre.
A tour of the Metis Crossing also kicks off on Friday at 9am.
The main portion of the weekend will be spent discussing issues facing the Metis people and what actions and steps need resolutions as a council, said President Duane Zaraska.
“It’s all sort of different things. We have our presentations, our affiliates report like Rupertsland, our business development corporation, reporting our financials, all that kind of stuff. Our direction,” said Zaraska.
“We’ve always included making changes in our government or anything we do, we involve our members and our direction comes from them. And that’s where this happens at this general assembly.”
He said the recognition from the Town by raising the flag is especially meaningful.
“This flag is going to be flown permanently in the town, which is just amazing. It’s been symbolic, of course, the flag raisings, but it symbolizes that we’re in the time of recognition and reconciliation. That’s kind of our theme this year is the ‘journey of recognition begins, the future is now.’
“That’s moving forward with our self-government agreement, with reconciliation. It’s so important that we all move forward together. We’re reaching out to all the communities and making new friendships. Reconciliation isn’t about ‘hey, give us this back.’ It’s about recognition, history and moving forward. It’s important we establish this in all the communities,” he said.
The Metis Youth Council will also meet during the weekend.
They are a group of young Metis people who talk about the issues facing people their age and try to get involved in the process.
“It’s also learning about our government structure, getting them involved and keeping them interested. That’s what our challenge is. If we’re going to continue as a people of Canada, we have to make sure our language, our traditions, and our culture is carried on and that’s the whole idea is getting them involved,” said Zaraska.
The opening ceremonies at the flag raising on Saturday morning begins with a procession from the Recreation Centre to the UFO Landing Pad.
There will be speeches from the Reeve of St. Paul County Steve Upham, Alberta Region II President Duane Zaraska, Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson, President of Métis Nation Ontario Margaret Froh, President of Métis Nation Saskatchewan Glen McCallum, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta Audrey Poitras, and St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller.