From generation to generation

The Northern Reelers from Wabasca, Alta perform during the 2017 jigging and square-dancing competition at Back to Batoche. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Every few years, Lela Arnold leaves her home in Green Lake and travels south past Prince Albert for Back to Batoche.

Her family, like hundreds of others from British Columbia to Ontario, makes the trip to celebrate and learn about Métis history and culture. It’s a trip she’s made with her children and grandchildren, and hopefully it’s a trip they’ll make with their kids too.

“I think so,” Arnold says when asked if Back to Batoche will still be around in 50 years. “I hope I’m right. I won’t be around myself, but I would like to see it (continue) for 50 years.”

As a member of the organizing committee, and a member of the Métis herself, Arnold has a direct hand in making sure that happens. Fun is the name of the game this weekend, but she works hard to make sure a bit of education is mixed in too.

Arnold learned a lot about the history of her people while studying for her Indigenous Social Work degree. She made sure to teach her own children that history, but says not everyone has those opportunities.

That’s where events like Back to Batoche play an important role.

“It’s just like doing your genealogy,” she says. “You meet people that you’ve never met before and find out that they’re related. You find out more about yourself, about your heritage.”

It’s not just about teaching children or first time festival attendees either. Even Arnold finds herself learning something new every year, like her improving understanding of the Cree language.

For the rest of this story, please see the July 24 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

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