Michel Band Exhibit Teaches and Inspires

The Musée Héritage museum in St. Albert did it again! Another outstanding Indigenous exhibit!

This exhibit was about the Michel Band, named after Chief Michel Callihoo, the son of Louis Kwarakwante, a Mohawk form Kahnawake, near Montreal. Not knowing much about this band I was informed, enlightened, and surprised. I learned that for many years the Callihoo family was settled in the Jasper area, then moved west when the children grew. After working for the Hudson’s Bay Company for 26 years, he joined the small mission community at Lac Ste. Anne. An adhesion to Treaty 6 was signed in 1878. The Michel Callihoo reserve was created in 1880, 29 km NW of Edmonton. Lack of government support for many years and great pressure from many quarters, the reserve was broken up through surrenders and enfranchisement. Formal recognition of their status is still being sought.

I recognized some of the names in my own Métis genealogy and am now wondering about the possibilities. Then, I saw a photo of my Auntie Bertha (L’Hirondelle) Bell/Belcourt by marriage receiving scrip money.

Of course I bought the book Sun Traveller to get more information and keep the journey alive.

One poster in particular stood out that said, “A Reputation for Hard Work.” A lengthy quote from a government official includes, “….these half-breeds are a very superior class of Indians….making a good living by mixed farming, selling their grain, cattle…Their buildings-in fact the whole reserve-compare favourably with any white settlement.”

Apparently, one former Conservative senator has never read about the Michel Band. She would probably call them an anomaly – no, wait, that is too sophisticated a word for her limited capacity.

Thank you Musée Héritage Museum for bringing out some accurate and lesser-known history of some wonderful Indigenous people who were created by a wonderful Creator.

Sharon Pasula is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural resource person who lives in Boyle Street.

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