The Métis Nation of Alberta is celebrating the birth of two bison calves at a cultural park northeast of Edmonton.
The new additions at Métis 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.
Métis 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 Métis citizens in Alberta,” Poitras said.
Métis Nation of Alberta co-ordinated the transfer of the bison to help conserve the animals and for cultural revitalization.
Juanita Marois, the CEO of Métis Crossing, says bison play a significant role in Métis culture.
“Bison were a vital food source for Métis peoples and communal bison hunts were Métis tradition and formed the bedrock of Métis society,” said Marois in a news release Thursday.
“It was at these gatherings that Métis democratic and judicial systems developed through ‘Laws of the Buffalo Hunt.’ The loss of the bison was felt deeply by Métis peoples, so to play a role in their reintroduction to these traditional lands is significant.”
The Canadian Press