June 21st (today) is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. In my initial application for this position, I was quick to express my interest in these communities. Now that I'm nearly half-way through my term, I can safely say that my connection to our province's and country’s first peoples will stay with me forever, regardless of where I am or what I'm doing. I, myself, am of Métis descent. This is by no means brandished by my physical attributes, nor did I practice any traditions or philosophies of this culture in my day-to-day life...until recently.
Earlier this month, I travelled north-east to the Saskatchewan River Delta and the area surrounding Cumberland House Cree Nation. It's baffling to me that this isn't a world-renowned tourism destination, given the fact that Cumberland House is the oldest permanent settlement in Western Canada and the Saskatchewan River Delta is the largest inland delta in North America. This expansive area is commonly referred to as "the homeland of the Cree and the Métis." From its foundation in 1774, Cumberland House and the adjacent delta established itself as one of the most important fur trading depots in Canada. I learned these fascinating tidbits of trivia while on a 40km canoe tour guided by Michela Carriére - a local who turned her passion for her homeland and heritage into a tourism enterprise called Aski Holistic Adventures.
Over the three days that I spent on the delta, I learned so much about my province, my ancestry and myself. One teaching that I hope to carry into my post-wanderer existence is the meaning (and phonetic pronunciation) of the Cree word "Miyopimatisowin." This word roughly translates as "the good life" and was described to me as a mindful appreciation for where you are at the present. My understanding of this term manifested itself in a visceral medium as I floated along this beautiful and important body of water, exchanging stories with people who have different backgrounds than myself.
My fascination in the First Nations and Métis ways of life were admittedly stemmed from my personal genetic involvement - but on this journey I quickly learned that everyone in Saskatchewan, regardless of their family tree, should take interest in where they're from. In Saskatchewan, at least, that origin story can't be told without the legacy of Indigenous cultures.
Below is a video that showcases my experience with Aski Holistic Adventures, the Saskatchewan River Delta and Big Eddy Lodge:
To learn more about Aski Holistic Adventures go to: