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Métis monument unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Red Deer gets its first Indigenous monument
A Red River Cart was unveiled in front of the office of the local charity Shining Mountains Living Community Services, on June 21, 2023. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Red Deer’s downtown now has a monument that symbolizes Métis history, ingenuity and determination.

A Red River cart, historically used by the Métis to travel the rugged prairies, was unveiled during a ceremony on National Indigenous Peoples Day on Wednesday.

The wooden cart, also known as a Métis cart, stands about two metres high in front of the office of the local charity Shining Mountains Living Community Services, at 4925 46th St.

Developed in the early 1800s in the Red River Settlement, now Winnipeg, the cart was used until steam trains became popular. Today’s highways often follow the old trails made by the carts, and ruts from the wheels can still be seen in remote parts of the prairies.


Monument unveiling in Red Deer on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Raye St. Denys, Shining Mountains executive director, said Red Deer has made strides to become less racist and bigoted, but there has never been anything in the city to acknowledge Métis or Indigenous people.

The Red River cart is Red Deer’s first Indigenous monument.

“I refuse for our community to be invisible,” said St. Denys, who added Indigenous people are here to stay.

“Indigenous people have always been here. This was our land first. We wanted something to say we are here.”

St. Denys said a woman struggling with homelessness, who watched the cart being installed earlier this week, remarked how welcomed it made her feel.

“She said, ‘We’re going to have a home.’ She broke my heart. She said, ‘We’ll have a place to call home.’”


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Deputy mayor Bruce Buruma, who read the proclamation for National Indigenous Peoples Day on behalf of the mayor’s office, said the cart was a wonderful display to acknowledge the presence of the Indigenous population in Red Deer and hopefully, there will be many more.

“I know this council, and particularly our mayor is very, very focused on working together with the First Nation, Métis and Inuit people and building a stronger and better community because of that,” Buruma said.

The proclamation committed to continued efforts on the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.

“Canadians are beginning to understand the long-term effects of the historic oppression including colonization, assimilation, appropriation and genocide and that it created generational challenges and trauma for Indigenous communities.”

“I would like to thank Indigenous communities for their patience, their perseverance, unwavering humour and grace, … , in this whole process in learning how to recognize the past and move forward in good ways,” Buruma read on behalf of Mayor Ken Johnston.

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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