Batoche Fall Festival aims to celebrate Metis culture in Saskatchewan

The celebration of Metis culture drew people to Batoche, Sask. for its annual Metis Fall Festival.

The event is a revised version of “Back to Batoch” which happens every July. It was canceled the previous year due to the COVID-9 pandemic.

“It’s just nice to get out of your homes and to get out there even though you’re still following some of the COVID guidelines,” said Loretta Vandale, who is Metis. “It’s the one event in Saskatchewan that really promotes our Metis heritage.”

Booths were setup representing Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario Metis peoples to help educate visitors. Over 2,000 people havestopped by for the two-day event. Roy Sanderson is Metis and drove in from his home in Prince Albert.

“It’s good to see people gathering and meeting each other, it’s the main thing here, (people) they gather,”Sanderson said.

Several food vendors were set up and some serving traditional Metis food.There was also horse racing, baseball, live artists, dancing and bingo.

“We’re serving the bannock burgers, Dumont dog we call it, and the neck bones, a lot of people like the neck bones,” said Kuzzin Kitchen employee Ivan Chartrand.

The site is welcoming day visitors and those wishing to stay overnight for the weekend.

“We are having a festival to celebrate our culture and bring our people together. Our people have been locked up since COVID and we needed to have an event where we could come together and celebrate,” said Metis Nation of Saskatchewan Minister of Culture and Heritage Sherry McLennan.

Those attending must be vaccinated or have a rapid test conducted onsite. Organizers are trying to promote vaccines with $2.5 million worth of prizes for people who have received vaccines at the event’s popup clinic or Metis people who have already received the vaccine.

“People from up north are having a hard time, they don’t understand the process and what it involves and why it’s important to get vaccinated so they’re not getting vaccinated,” said McLennan. “We want to encourage that they do get vaccinated.”

The Metis Fall Festival runs until Sunday.