A traditional land use study is underway across southeastern Saskatchewan through the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.
Co-Chair of the Traditional Land-Use study, Dexter Mondor, says the study is to determine how deep Métis roots run in southeast Saskatchewan.
He explains that the current generation of Elders are growing older and he believes that it is important to capture their knowledge on the region while there is still time to do so.
“We are doing this so we can discover the broadness of the Métis footprint in the Eastern Region III which is the eastern corner of our province. We’re also partnered with Parks Canada through the Motherwell Homestead in the Qu’Appelle Valley. We have received a grant from them and also funding through the Métis Nation Saskatchewan to do this traditional land-use study,” Mondor said.
Mondor notes that the rapid expansion of resource development is disturbing and could be impacting traditional land use by the Métis people.
He explained that the first phase of the study involves interviewing Elders in the area and allowing them to share their stories and history.
“We’re interviewing elders, knowledge keepers, and older people in the community. There are lots of them in the Qu’Appelle Valley which is home to lots of Métis people and we’re just learning the history and more defining the history, things like where settlements used to be, where people used to live, who they used to work for. Back in the ‘30s ‘40s and ‘50s Métis people were largely farmers. We’re learning all that and we’re collecting that data and compiling it in one form so we can have access to it.”
Mondor says X-Terra has been hired to help them compile the information.
X-Terra is an indigenous-owned company located in Saskatchewan that specializes in environmental impact assessments.
“We hired a company called X-Terra and they do story mapping. Once we’ve collected all our data and we’re happy with our presentation, that story mapping part will become the data that we can share with the public.
“We have working group meetings every week and we’ve identified locations within our group as to where we want X-Terra to go out and do research.
“They work with lots of industries and all types of groups to map land and do research studies and things like that. What we’re doing is our in-house person is interviewing people that are recommended or singled out.
“She’s doing all these interviews which are tough during COVID-19. So there are phone interviews, questionnaires going out and a form going out.”
The interview mail-out package supplies information about the study. There will also be a short questionnaire and a list of interview questions the individual can pick from.
Maps will also be provided to help the individuals label and identify Métis settlements, homesteads, and so forth. Consent forms will be attached that are required to be signed for participation.
Mondor explains that when the study is complete, the information will be compiled into an interactive map that will help share the history of the Métis people in the area.
He says they are doing this to help share their heritage and history before it is lost.
“You can click on a dot on the map and it will come up with a bunch of information but then there might also be a person who might have used to live there or had family there and they will share their story through our interview.
“The Métis have always been in Saskatchewan when they moved out from the Red River settlement out of Winnipeg and into three or four key areas in Saskatchewan. But in the ‘30s and ‘40s, they were dispersed because the government forced them to leave and changed things. Now we’re wanting to reconnect with that history and we realize that some of these knowledge keepers or elders who are passing on and haven’t shared their stories, that stuff is lost forever.”
Mondor says passing along the information of the Elders is important to the Métis community.
In the Métis community, Elder is a word that is used for those who are knowledgeable. Elders often hold respect in the Métis community and serve the community by educating others about practices, family traditions, and oral histories as well as contemporary methods.
But the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan is wanting to take this history preserved by the Elders and make it available to everyone who wants to learn of their history and heritage.
Any Métis citizens who want to take part in the study or have history to share can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator