EDMONTON — An Indigenous cultural centre northeast of Edmonton is reopening its doors to guests with expanded programming and spaces to inspire new learning and experiences.
Metis Crossing will reopen this weekend with major additions and an even grander vision in the hopes of becoming one of Alberta’s premier destinations for tourists.
Built on the original river lots of Metis settlers, the centre opened in 2005 but was only open seasonally to campers and day visitors.
Juanita Marois, executive director and CEO of Metis Crossing, told CTV News Edmonton that without steady sources of funding it was a model that was not financially sustainable.
“We always knew that we wanted to be more,” Marois said. “We wanted to become a major Indigenous destination.”
Now Metis Crossing is being revamped and expanded, with more authentic paid Metis experiences like voyageur canoe tours.
The centre added an 11,000 square foot gathering centre meant for hosting different events like weddings. Right next door is a 40-room lodge that is still under construction.
“I want it to be a year round destination,” Marois added. “So people are going outside and they’re snow shoeing, and they’re cross country skiing or watching the stars in winter and then they’re coming and having a glass of wine by the fire.”
The expanded relaunch for the centre is timely because of recent discovering of hundreds of unmarked graves at former Indian residential school sites in Kamloops and now Saskatchewan.
For Lilyrose Myers, Metis Crossing Elder, Metis Crossing is not simply a tourist destination but a place that can help educate and play a role in reconciliation efforts.
“We can’t change the past,” Meyers said. “But we need to heal from it.”
The Metis Elder is excited to share wisdom, experience, and stories with people who attend the centre.
“You sit down and have tea and coffee and we exchange stories, tell jokes,” Meyer said. “That’s a part of the healing and that’s what we’re here for as well.”
The cultural interpretive centre, situated on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, is located approximately 90 minutes from Edmonton.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett
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