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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cypress Hills may refer to:

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  • The Métis of Fort Walsh and Cypress Hills Massacre National Historic Sites


Cypress Hills are unique to Saskatchewan. When you think of Saskatchewan you think flat, but this area here was missed by the last ice age so you have a flat plateau on the top and folks around here call that the bench and then you have all these coulees and valleys and creeks and springs running through them. Fort Walsh was founded in the mid-1870s as a result of the journey west of the North West Mounted Police to stop the whiskey traders. A lot of the Métis families like the McKays and the La Valais that worked as interpreters were connected to it and some of the daughters of the scouts and guides became wives of some of the first North West Mounted Police officers that came up and stayed at Fort Walsh. Edward and Caroline McKay had the first homestead here in the Cypress Hills way before the fort was ever even thought of. Two of the Mounties married two of the McKay girls, one of them being our great grandmother. Parks Canada has collaborated with the Métis people in the area, descendants of the McKay family who lived beside the original fort, to make sure everybody’s story is told. Before there wasn’t anything on the McKays, which we could never really figure out cause they were right here. And, so I’m very, very satisfied and pleased that it’s being developed. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities at Fort Walsh. You have the fort itself where you can learn about the North West Mounted Police, the uniqueness of the history here, as well as a Métis trail. We have our Metis cabin and trade cabin so they can learn about the Métis people in the area. They’ve developed a replica of the trading post which is on the site where the McKay lived. To me they have done an amazing job of putting this Métis cabin together to honour, how people lived back then. I’m not sure what it would have been like to live here in the mid-1800s. Like they had to plan all through the summer just to get enough food to make them through the winter for their animals and themselves. Had to be a lot of work. I don’t know how the women had time to do all the fancy beadwork. It was a very important part of their culture. They were known as the flower bead people, weren’t they, the Métis. It was just part of who they were. Our grandmother put beading on everything, even on the inside of her fiddle case. When we all get together and we’re beading, we talk and reminisce about being children, and our mum and dad are both gone so we talk about them and remember all the good times we had together, we’ve become even closer since we’ve been doing this. What makes me most proud sitting here today is that Edward and Caroline and their families are getting recognition for having been here and for what they did. It’s great. They’re honouring them. The history of Métis people in southwestern Saskatchewan has been a long one, but unfortunately a lot of the history has been lost. It’s important for an agency like Parks Canada to help promote Métis history and culture because I think sometimes people forget that the Métis are a founding people of our region. It’s hard not to feel a connection when you come down the hill, it just takes your breath away, it kind of has a feeling of coming home. I have four sisters so there’s five of us and Caroline and Edward McKay had five daughters that were, that lived right here. So that’s sort of cool. After all these years there’s five of us again.


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This page was last edited on 1 February 2017, at 20:16
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