When people think of the Peace Country, they usually think of the vast natural landscapes, open sky, and pristine beauty. However, this area is also the home of several Indigenous and Métis groups with a rich cultural heritage. From drumming circles to pow wows, traditional crafts to mouth-watering cuisine, historic monuments and more, there is plenty to see and do. So get ready to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure as you explore eleven incredible ways to connect with Indigenous culture in the Peace Country.
Peace River Pow Wow
This two-day family festival is a favourite annual event in Peace River. Enjoy traditional dances, songs, food, and handmade goods from Indigenous Artist Vendors. Get involved in the intertribal dances and competitions, including the Métis fiddling and jigging contest and hand game competition. Everyone is welcome, so come out for an unforgettable experience of cultural immersion and entertainment on June 3-4, 2023 at the Peace River Agricultural Grounds. Free admission. No pets, please.
Woodland Cree First Nation Treaty Days
The Woodland Cree First Nation Treaty Days offers a weekend of cultural immersion, delicious food, and thrilling fun. This inclusive family event kicks off with exciting opening ceremonies and a parade. During the day, enjoy land games, traditional music, and live bands. Make Indigenous crafts and eat traditional food cooked over an open fire. There’s something for everyone, so don’t miss this unforgettable cultural event on July 14-16, 2023 at the Simon Lake Woodland Cree Culture and Recreational Area. Free admission.
St. Augustine Mission Site
The St. Augustine Mission was once a Roman Catholic mission and residential school. Established in 1888 by Father Albert Lacombe and operating until the 1950s, the only buildings of the original thirteen structures that still stand are the church, built in 1894, and the barn, built in 1930. In recent years, a landscaping project to help visitors understand the scale of the residential school has been undertaken. The aim of the project is to increase awareness of the impact the school had on local people and to honour the survivors. Visit the site (located on the grounds of the Peace River Correctional Centre on Shaftesbury Trail) to learn more, and to honour and grieve those who walked those paths before you.
Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park
Step into the past at Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park. Four original buildings from the Fort Dunvegan trading post still stand—but before the fort was established in 1805, Dunvegan had been a gathering place for the Tsa Ttine (Beaver) people for thousands of years. Starting at 1 p.m. on August 12, 2023, enjoy an inclusive Storytelling Event at the Dunvegan Interpretive Centre, organized by local storyteller Victoria Wayniandi. Listen and share stories of the resilient Tsa Ttine people as they reclaim their history, identity, and roots. For more information, see historicdunvegan.ca.
Sagitawa Friendship Centre
The Sagitawa Friendship Centre is an Indigenous-run community hub and drop-in centre in Peace River that welcomes anyone who walks through the door. It serves the community with a broad range of programs for youth, seniors, young moms, families, cancer patients, the homeless, and more. Their Ground Level Youth Centre provides safe and supportive after-school programming, and they even have a handicraft store selling Indigenous-made goods. To learn more about their programs and how you can connect with the community through their services, visit their website at sagitawa.org.
For the history buffs, consider taking a tour of one of the many museums in the Peace region. The Peace River Museum, Archives, and Mackenzie Centre, which frequently curates exhibits of traditional Indigenous ways of life, is a popular place to learn more about the region’s history. But don’t forget other museums, like the Battle River Pioneer Museum in Manning, Nampa and District Museum, the Northern Alberta Historical and Railway Museum in McLennan, the Dixonville Museum (located in an early twentieth-century trading post), and, of course, the interactive Pioneer Village Museum at Lac Cardinal. Learn more and find a museum near you at spiritofthepeace.ca.
Treaty 8 Monument
National Indigenous Peoples Day in 2019 marked the grand opening of a monument commemorating the one-hundred-twentieth anniversary signing of the second adhesion to Treaty 8. The unveiling included the permanent raising of the Treaty 8 and Métis flags. A storyboard added in 2022 uses images and text to depict the treaty signing and negotiations between the government and Indigenous leaders, as well as the implications of the treaty for Indigenous communities in the region. Visit the monument in Riverfront Park, Peace River to learn about the history and significance of Treaty 8 and its impact on Indigenous communities in the region.
National Indigenous Peoples Month
During National Indigenous Peoples History Month this June, be sure to check out the many events celebrating Indigenous and Métis culture. This year, you can enjoy an Indigenous Art Show at the Peace River Municipal Library starting on May 25th and wrapping up with a closing event on National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21). The Peace River Art Hub will also host an Indigenous art show throughout June. And don’t miss the festivities in Peace River Riverside Park on June 21 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. for an evening of family fun!
Every Child Matters Walk
Get out your orange shirt and join in on one of the local Every Child Matters Walks hosted by communities in the Peace region. Walks are frequently held on or around National Truth and Reconciliation Day (September 30), a national holiday established in 2021 after several horrific mass graves came to light near past residential schools. The Every Child Matters Walk is a chance to remember, honour, and grieve the victims and survivors of the residential school system and their loved ones. Check your local municipality for details of the walk nearest you.
If you’ve driven or walked by the Third Mission Heritage Suites in Peace River recently, you may have seen the beautiful Painted Walkway—a crosswalk with a rich orange background and eight white eagle feathers representing Treaty 8 painted across it. Created by artist Judy Ducharme in 2022, the walkway is a symbol to honour the many children who attended and often suffered in residential schools such as the one once located in the Third Mission Heritage Suites building. Next time you cross that street, take a moment and remember those who never came home so we can move forward together in peace and kindness.
Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S) Events
While Red Dress Day (May 5) for 2023 is already behind us, mark Sisters In Spirit Day (October 4) as a chance to join in the movement to raise awareness about the increased risk of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people. Red Dress Day became a grassroots movement after Métis artist Jaime Black created a Winnipeg art installation featuring hundreds of community-donated red dresses. The tradition continues by hanging red—chosen because it’s “the only colour the spirits can see”— dresses from windows and trees on May 5. Sisters in Spirit Day is usually honoured by community walks or vigils, such as the one planned in Fairview this October. Check your local town website or Sisters in Spirit Facebook page to learn more and participate in an event near you