City of Calgary acquires first Métis Trapper’s Tent and Red River Cart
It is possible to live somewhere your entire life and still not know very much about the history of that place. Often, recorded history doesn’t tell the whole story, and we need to dig a bit deeper. New opportunities to learn more are coming to City of Calgary parks; in particular, the opportunity to learn about Métis Culture.
“Having Métis Trapper’s Tents in parks creates an opportunity for Calgarians to make sense of the place that we live in,” said Matt Hiltermann citizen of and historian for the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3. “It opens up the door to talk about the deep history of this place that isn’t commonly talked about.”
For the first time, The City of Calgary has acquired a Métis Trapper’s Tent and Red River cart that will appear in Calgary parks. Starting in 2024, community groups and festival organizers will be able to request the tent for their event if they are creating opportunities for people to learn more about Métis Culture and history.
Calgarians are welcome to come to Prince’s Island Park on Saturday, September 23 from 1 pm to 3 pm to celebrate the launching of the first Métis Trapper’s Tent acquired by The City. There will be Métis fiddle music, Métis jigging and traditional food.
The public will also be able to view archival images showing Métis People and the structures they built along the Bow River, Elbow River and Fish Creek inside the tent.
“We want this to be a welcoming space where people can learn about Métis Culture and, if they are Métis themselves, connect to their culture,” said Matt. “An important part of this is including the names of many of the people in the images. If we don’t share their names, these people and their role in Métis history can be forgotten.”
Cree, Métis and Dene artist Danielle Piper designed the frames that surround these captivating images. The frames were collaboratively beaded during a public workshop and at the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 Beading Circle.
“All of these collaborators and participants in the beading, this is their tent too,” said Matt. “There has been a lot of community investment in bringing this all together, these collaborative pieces of Métis art.”
The City has also acquired a Red River cart, handcrafted by Métis artist Riel Starr, which will also be on display Saturday.
“The Red River carts, it is how Métis People got around,” said Matt. “There is a distinctive screeching sound when they move, the sound of wood-on-wood.”
The carts are made entirely out of wood, no metal, so they are easier to repair when travelling by just using the wood on hand. Without metal, the use of oil for the wheels was not practical since the oil would mix with dust and make it harder to move the wheels.
“The goal of all of this is to bring these park spaces to life and connect people with Métis history and culture and with today’s current Métis community,” said Matt.
For more information, visit calgary.ca/tipi