By Brittney Pastion of CFWE-FM
The Métis Nation of Alberta, and the governments of Canada and Alberta celebrated the ground-breaking of phase 2 of the cultural gathering centre at Métis Crossing.
The new cultural gathering centre will work toward the preservation of Métis heritage and encourage regional tourism.
Typically, the space located along the North Saskatchewan River within the Victoria District National Historic Site is open from May to October.
Metis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President Audrey Poitras said the new building will allow the area to be open all year round.
“Even just to have a facility out at Métis Crossing is major for us,” Poitras told Brittney Pastion of CFWE-FM.
Once complete, the new facility will offer year-round programming for the first time. Taking a huge step towards ensuring that cultural activities can continue for when it gets too cold or rainy outside.
The centre is part of a bigger picture to develop a cultural site that began in 2005 with the restoration of old buildings, including a music stage, RV park and now the cultural centre will accommodate larger events with a hall, equipped with a kitchen.
Poitras praised Smokey Lake County for playing a key role in making this dream come true. “Smoke Lake County has been an awesome partner and supporter of everything we’ve done from the very beginning.”
Poitras said it’s part of a bigger cultural initiative that taps into the Ukrainian village, Smokey Lake County and all of their activities that go on.
“It’s part of a bigger area of promoting culture in that area,” said Poitras.
Alberta Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi played a substantial role in the project pushing a commitment from Canada in the second phase of the building.
The 10,000 ft2 centre will include meeting rooms, gathering spaces, classrooms, exhibit space and interpretive spaces.
“What our young people have really been asking for,” said Poitras, who has heard about the need for an indoor space to accommodate winter events.
The goal for MNA is to accommodate traditional programs, such as trapping, snowshoe tours, and night sky watching.
The overall plan for the 512 acres of land will include a veteran’s monument in the future.
A tentative opening for the cultural centre is set for fall of 2019 to be used for culturally-appropriate programming and to rent out to the public.