Métis residents in Lethbridge are being celebrated as today marks the start of Métis Week. A flag was raised at city hall on Nov. 14 to mark the occasion and members of the community came out in the cold to hear speeches and celebrate culture.
“It’s a way to keep our Métis strong nowadays — in this busy world it’s easy to forget things and strangely enough one of them is culture. So we like to keep our culture alive, it’s a very vibrant culture and it’s great to be able to come to city hall and raise our Métis flag here with the infinity symbol on it,” said Elder Alice Bissonette. “The infinity symbol standing for the joining together of two cultures, the Indigneous and the European peoples and through the years we learned from each other, we taught each other and today we still have that strong connection.”
Part of the flag raising ceremony was about promoting the Michif language, which is the official language of Métis. A piece of artwork was shown off which displayed Tan’si, a Michif greeting. The city of Lethbridge also handed out buttons with the word on them.
“We’re so fortunate to have a diverse make-up of many different cultures within our city and today is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the Métis people who call Lethbridge home,” said Mayor Blaine Hyggen.
Bissonette said the language is a combination of Cree and French and it is an important part of Métis culture.
“Unfortunately it’s a language that’s not as prevalent now as it was before and we are trying to get it revived again so that more people are speaking it and learning it because we certainly don’t want it to be a thing of the past,” she said.
The city partnered with the Métis Local to make buttons, stickers and postcards available at the local office, which feature the word Tan’si on them. There is also information on how to be conversational in the language.