The Metis Nation of Alberta is celebrating the birth of two bison calves at a cultural park northeast of Edmonton.
The new additions at Metis Crossing come after 20 wood bison were transferred to the traditional lands last year from Elk Island National Park.
It had been around 160 years since the animals lived there before they were reintroduced to the area in 2021.
Metis Nation president Audrey Poitras says the return of bison to the region marks a milestone in reconciliation.
She says the animals were nearly driven to extinction by settlers, forcing bison hunts to stop.
The calves will live among a herd of wood and plains bison, as well as 25 elk and 20 horses that roam the grounds.
“The birth of these calves is historic for Metis citizens in Alberta,” Poitras said.
Metis Nation of Alberta co-ordinated the transfer of the bison to help conserve the animals and for cultural revitalization.
Juanita Marois, the CEO of Metis Crossing, says bison play a significant role in Metis culture.
“Bison were a vital food source for Metis peoples and communal bison hunts were Metis tradition and formed the bedrock of Metis society,” said Marois in a news release Thursday.
“It was at these gatherings that Metis democratic and judicial systems developed through `Laws of the Buffalo Hunt.’ The loss of the bison was felt deeply by Metis peoples, so to play a role in their reintroduction to these traditional lands is significant.”
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