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Red River carts – a powerful symbol of Metis identity

Posted on March 8, 2022 by Maple Creek
Lillyana Dumont, 10, is a picture of concentration as she builds a miniature Red River cart.

It is an intrinsic, passionate and powerful symbol of Métis nationhood in Western Canada.
It was also a noisy, but versatile conveyance designed to carry goods, including bison meat, to and from hunting and camping, and later, farming sites.
The Red River Cart was developed by the Métis for use in their settlement on the Red River, now Manitoba, through most of the 19th century.
On Saturday afternoon, a group at the Jasper Cultural & Historical Centre not only learned about the history of Red River Carts – they also got to build miniature models of the famous two-wheeled wooden rig, which was pulled by a horse, pony or ox. The workshop was run by George Fayant, a Métis man born and raised near the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan, who comes from a family of construction workers and carpenters.
Fayant has been building Red River Carts in various scales since 1998, giving presentations on their history, explaining how they were constructed using antique tools. His weekend workshop tied in with Métis month of March which gives people a chance to explore Métis traditions and culture with Chinook Regional Library and Maple Creek Métis Local #12, Western Region 111.
On Saturday, March 12, and Saturday, March 19, between 3pm and 5pm, there will be sessions at the Seniors’ Centre on traditional beading (ages 10 to adult). On Saturday, March 26, 3pm-5pm, Creeland dancers will give instruction on traditional jigging.
To register call 306-662-3522 or email: maplecreek@chinook.lib.sk.ca, http://www.chinooklibrary.ca

George Fayant shows a Metis sash, a colourful finger-woven belt often three metres long. It was used as a belt to hold coats closed and also as a towrope, tumple, towel, and even a sewing kit.

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