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Language and Culture (13-17)

Celebration of Metis culture takes place at Back to Batoche Days

July 24, 2023

Organizers said this year’s four-day event had record-breaking numbers of attendees – Jul 24, 2023

Global News: Thousands of people gathered over the weekend for Back to Batoche Days, a celebration of Métis heritage that recognizes the culture with music, dancing and various performances.

Organizers said this year’s four-day event had record-breaking numbers of attendees.

“Yesterday, I think we had somewhere around 47,000 people here come through the gates,” said Michelle LeClair, Métis Nation Saskatchewan vice-president. “That doesn’t include the people that are already here. The day before, I think there was about 30,000 people.

This year’s Back to Batoche Days, held at the national historical site, was dedicated to the youth.

“It’s incredibly important to make sure that our youth are there are future leaders,” said LeClair. “They’re an important part of our community … we should celebrate them always.” 

Vicki Arcand, the wife of the Métis fiddling legend, says the tribute in honour of her husband John was a way to connect with the younger folks who were students of his in the past. “He’s a prolific writer (and) he’s composed over 500 original tunes and had many students over the years,” said Arcand.

“We’ve got a wonderful mix of people who’ve been either touched by his music, taught by him, or aspire to be him. We’ve got a really nice mix of different cultures and age groups, and each of them will play a composition that John has written.”

The Arcands said with the theme focusing on the youth, it is up to them to carry on the musical tradition. “It’s part of our culture, has been for (300), 400 years or whatever, and it’s important that it keeps on as a part of the culture,” said John.

In 2023, Back to Batoche Days marks its 51st year.