Dozens of people, including numerous Metis dignitaries, attended the official unveiling of a new Metis heritage display at the Sundre Pioneer Museum during Winterfest.
The permanent display, which includes historical clothing, documents and other items, will be an important addition to the museum's collection, says manager Darlene Smee.
Future Sundre schoolchildren will be able to learn about the region's Metis heritage by visiting the display in the years to come, she said.
The Sundre Metis Friendship Circle was instrumental in bringing the display to Sundre.
Bev Weber, vice-president of the Metis Nation of Alberta, said the display is indicative of the close relationship between the Metis community and the community at large.
“It is a meaningful honour,” said Weber. “It wasn't always easy to be Metis, but we refused to have our freedom taken away from us. We are your neighbours and your friends.”
Wayne Scheer gave the opening ceremonies prayer of dedication.
The untying of two Metis ceremonial sashes held by Keagan Jones and Christopher Campkin officially opened the display.
Metis Friendship Circle members Sandra Williams and Doreen Bergum also spoke during the opening ceremonies.
MC Leo Dumont read out the names of many of the region's Metis families.
Several young girls put on a Red River Jig display, a dance popular with Metis across Western Canada.
Wild Rose MP Blake Richards, Town of Sundre Councillor Myron Thompson, and Mountain View County Reeve Paddy Munro brought greetings and congratulations from their respective governments.
The opening ceremony concluded with more dancing and samples of stew and bannock.
The dedication service included singing the Metis National Anthem, which includes the following lyrics:
We are proud to be Métis, watch our nation rise again;
Nevermore forgotten people, we're the true Canadians.
For this newest generation and the future ones to come,
With the past to motivate us, it will help to keep us strong.
Meanwhile, museum manager Darlene Smee said the 6th annual Winterfest was a big hit, with more than 500 guests taking part in activities over two days.
More than 30 volunteers were involved in putting on the festival this year.
Plans are already in the works for the 7th annual festival in 2012.