The Cultural Department of the Louis Riel Institute has set out a common context, set of goals, and range of strategies for implementation of the Cultural component of our mandate over the next three years. This paper outlines the priorities of the Department over that time.
The Metis Nation has a very diverse and distinct culture!
The word culture is possibly one of the most ambiguous in the English language.
There are two main uses for the word today.
Culture as a broader anthropological meaning referring to a whole way of life as in Metis culture, or youth culture, or indeed the culture of Canada. This definition means that culture may or may not necessarily have specific geographic boundaries.
Culture as the product of intellectual and creative activity – this is a long list which cannot be exclusive, incorporating all art forms, which changes as new technologies create new mediums for creative expression – recording, broadcasting and more recently the internet and multi-media applications. The Louis Riel Institute has used a number of different definitions in a range of activities and publications that have dealt with the subject over the last few years. Many deal with culture in its broadest sense in relation to lifestyle and values. (as expressed in the publication “Metis Legacy”)
The cumulative expression of community identity through the natural and Built environment; heritage and shared languages; through the arts and crafts; recreation and leisure activities and the many other ways by which creative identity is expressed, interpreted and acknowledge. One definition used by The Louis Riel Institute and which is very appropriate, incorporates both meanings of the word, describing one in relation to the other.
Culture defines who we are, and it encompasses our entire way of life, our ethics, our institutions, our manners and our routines. The most highly developed and imaginative aspects of our culture are the arts, which help to shape our identity as a community and contribute to enhancing our way of life. This was recognized by Manitoba’s founding Father, Louis Riel, and expressed in his prediction: ” My people will sleep for one hundred years, when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back”.
The Institute deals with all aspects of cultural expression and identity including the arts. Much of the consultation with the community must focus on the issue of arts and creativity and their current position in the cultural expression of the community and the Louis Riel Institute.
It is recognized that the issues raised and the needs identified through the research need to be integrated with other policy developments including land use planning, heritage, sport, recreation, and the importance of place and cultural identity in social, environmental and other planning issues.
CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF THE METIS
Manitoba is reported to have been occupied by Metis people for many years. For Metis people the physical form, language, law and spirit of their country is explained through the activities of their ancestral beings. Sharing and celebration were a significant part of the Metis way of life.
A key to the region’s prosperity has been its continued role as a transport hub.
As our cultural history shows, Manitoba is a major regional centre for all forms of artistic expression and is increasing its profile in the performing arts, dance, music and the visual arts.
The development of arts practice and the enduring commitment of the Louis Riel Institute in progressing the Arts cannot be underestimated. Arts and Cultural expression have always been an integral part of the life of the Metis community.
“From eternity the arts have captured the soul of humanity and inspired forms of expression that span millenniums.”
- Too many Metis people are not at a level of cultural awareness to participate fully in the community. As Cultural awareness becomes buried in the increasing array of issues affecting our daily lives, we cannot allow large numbers of Metis people to go through life without reasonable levels of traditional knowledge;
- The existing inventory of formal public programs and institutions does not meet all the important needs of Metis people, especially in the area of cultural development.
- The problematic links between Cultural expression and economic and social issues are well recognized, but the processes for closer ties between programs and institutions are not sufficiently developed.
- Colleges, Universities, Schools, community agencies, training organizations, unions, private companies and others in Manitoba and beyond are involved in the provision of cultural awareness.
- Development of Metis student skills and understanding for appropriate use of technology in relation to Metis culture.
- Improve the sustainability and efficiency of Cultural training within the Louis Riel Institute.
- Present Cultural training in fundamental ways to better meet Metis learner needs and understanding.