In order to teach visitors about the lost art of barrel making at historic Fort Langley, staffer Aman Johal built one himself in the fort cooperage using traditional hand tools. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Celebrating Metis culture and history at Louis Riel Day

Annual event at Fort Langley national historic site

In order to teach visitors about the lost art of barrel making at historic Fort Langley, staffer Aman Johal built one himself in the fort cooperage using traditional hand tools.

“It took me a week,” Johal told the Langley Advance Times, laughing.

“I’m never making another one.”

Johal’s presentation was one of several staged during Louis Riel Day held at the fort on Saturday, Nov.16.

The annual celebration of Métis history and heritage drew hundreds to see blacksmithing and woodcarving demonstrations, as well as cultural displays, cooking and demonstrations fiddle playing, storytelling, jigging, and archery.

Among the demonstrations, Metis carver Pat Calihou was working on a hand-carved walking stick, in between making hand-made canoe paddles.

Chilliwack resident Kai Thompson said preserving the history of indigenous culture is “an important thing.”

While she herself”does not identify as Metis,” Thompson has taught herself to speak the “upriver dialect” of the time.

Since 2016, the fort, together with several Métis organizations, has celebrated Métis people and their contributions during the fur trade in B.C.

READ ALSO: Historic Fort Langley remembers James Douglas and Louis Riel

READ ALSO: Hands-on history during Douglas Day at historic Fort Langley

On Sunday, Douglas Day festivities were held at the fort to highlight the historic day that Sir James Douglas proclaimed the British Crown Colony.

Douglas, known as “The Father of British Columbia”went on to found Fort Victoria, on the site of the present-day provincial capital.

His name appears on many buildings and communities in B.C. including Douglas Hall, a residence at Trinity Western University.

Riel is remembered as a Métis leader, who led two popular Métis governments, was central in bringing Manitoba into Confederation, and was executed for high treason for his role in the 1885 rebellion against Canadian encroachment on Métis lands.

He was initially dismissed as a rebel by Canadian historians, but that view has changed and many now see him as a charismatic leader who fought to protect his people.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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Metis carver Pat Calihou was working on a hand-carved walking stick during Louis Riel Day at historic Fort Langley. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Chilliwack resident Kai Thompson, with friend Tim, said Louis Riel Day at historic Fort Langley was “important” because it p;reserves indigenous culture. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Historical re-enactor Graham MacDonell explained how the RCMP adapted their trademark red serge from the British military. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Visitors to Louis Riel Day could try their hand at archery. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A blacksmith was playing his trade. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Louis Riel Day was grey and damp. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

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