Anzac, Alberta–(Newsfile Corp. – June 3, 2022) – In celebration of its newly acquired land, Willow Lake Métis Nation (WLMN), an Anzac, Alberta-based Métis community, hosted a celebration on its land today to celebrate the historic Métis milestone and thank the stakeholders who were pivotal in its success.
The approximately 205 acres of land will provide Willow Lake citizens with food, power, and cultural and social security. Sohkastwâwin will feature an eco-bison ranch and local food source, a garden, community culture centre, and Métis housing. The Nation also has plans for cultural education programming, local power generation, climate resilience design, net zero emissions, disaster mitigation, and tourism.
“Today is a celebration of a historic milestone for Métis peoples, and Willow Lake Métis Nation is incredibly proud to be leading the charge,” says Stella Lavallee, President of WLMN. “Sohkastwâwin, Cree for ‘the act of being resilient,’ is so much more than land. It is a tangible representation of our Nation’s resilience and our strong commitment to mitigate climate change.”
In September 2021, WLMN, Suncor, and seven other Indigenous communities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced Astisiy Limited Partnership and its resulting 15 per cent ownership of the Northern Courier Pipeline. WLMN used the revenue to acquire approximately 205 acres on the former Platt Farm land, located at Site 403, Mod 8, Comp 5, RR 2, Fort McMurray, AB T9H 5S1.
“Bison and the Métis are intricately connected, and both share a powerful historical connection to all living things,” says Justin Bourque, CEO of WLMN. “Revitalizing our connection with the bison will be a key component in our work to revitalize our land and lay the foundation for our future.”
Stakeholders and supporters from across the country were invited to the unveiling. Their inclusion underpins the importance of collaborative partnerships and underscores that while WLMN is and always has been self-reliant, relationships are the backbone of the success they celebrate today.
“Sohkastwâwin is proof that more can be accomplished together than on your own,” continues Bourque. “Our Nation’s success is not built by our achievements, but by the relationships and partnerships we have formed. These connections have bolstered our confidence to continue to actively maintain our right to self-governance. The Willow Lake Métis always have been – and always will be – resilient peoples.”
About Willow Lake Métis Nation
Willow Lake Métis Nation (WLMN) is a Métis community whose citizens now mostly reside in the community of Anzac, Alberta. WLMN’s roots lie in the history of the fur trade in Alberta and the economic and political circumstances that evolved during and after the fur trade. The historical Willow Lake community was close to trade and travel routes that connected Fort McMurray and Willow Lake to Lac La Loche to the east, to Fort Chipewyan to the north, and to Lac La Biche to the south. Willow Lake Métis people lived on and derived their livelihood from the lands between these locations through much of the later fur trade period, and WLMN people continue to use these lands to exercise their Indigenous rights, sustain their culture and identity as Métis people, support their community, and pass their knowledge and way of life on to their descendants. Key Métis family lines represented in the WLMN community include Bourque, Cardinal, Huppie, Lavallee, McKenzie, Quintal, and Whitford.
For more information, visit www.wlmn.ca