The Mountain Métis have a rich history of land management—trapping, guiding and outfitting. During the 1950s, many lobbied MLA Norman Willmore to protect the eastern slopes, which resulted in the Willmore Wilderness Act. This sophisticated mountain society has been successful in protecting this 4500 sq kilometers of mountain wilderness because of foresight and activism. The Mountain Métis have over 200 years of wildlife and wilderness management skills.
Most of the outfitters in Willmore Wilderness Park are Métis and many of their outfits are over 100 years old; and most of the commercial trail riding outfitters in the Park are Métis and operate outfitting businesses. These outfitters possess a wealth of knowledge and understanding of Alberta’s eastern slopes. Many of the traplines on Alberta’s eastern slopes are also held by Métis trappers. The Mountain Métis were the first businessmen in the Rocky Mountain Region, and they continue to conduct traditional operations to this day. The Mountain Métis have several centuries of mountain management expertise. Their knowledge should be used in a government or industry consultation process.
Métis families run fifty percent of the mountain lodges and accommodations in the region. The business and entrepreneurial skills run deep in the veins of this community, who are truly “otipemisiwak” or the Independent Ones.
The Mountain Métis have expanded and grown since Jacco Findlay first arrived on Alberta’s eastern slopes in the late 1700s. Despite the time passage, many of their traditions remain strong to this day. There are many descendants of the fur trade on the eastern slopes. New Métis families have come to join their ranks. What keeps the community vibrant is the strong bond of the mountain traditions. Hunting, trapping, guiding, outfitting, and horsemanship skills are but a few of the Mountain Métis traditions. Gathering edible and medicinal plants is a family and often a community activity. Many still make traditional hides and beautiful beadwork.
The Mountain Métis leadership is committed to keeping the Métis community alive and well. The Mountain Métis organization runs a community hall and hosts events. Socialization is critical to the health of any community and the Mountain Métis have regular community events throughout the year.