Métis Crossing – an Indigenous Retreat: the Place to Stay in Alberta

This state-of-the-art lodge is part of a soul-enriching cultural centre where you can stay, unwind and learn about the Métis people
This state-of-the-art lodge is part of a soul-enriching cultural centre where you can stay, unwind and learn about the Métis people | Travel Alberta / Métis Crossing

Métis Crossing, on Smoky Lake’s Victoria Trail – the oldest road in Alberta, which Indigenous people have used for travelling, trading and settling for hundreds of years – is a cultural centre, luxurious lodge and activity hub all in one.

The sleek, state-of-the-art building on 688 acres (278ha) of land is a place for curious travellers to stay and immerse themselves in Indigenous lives, in particular, the lives of the Métis people, through signature experiences, art, food and the homestead – a preserved log cabin in the grounds of the Crossing that was actually used by native families, showcased to replicate what home life looked like for the Métis.

You will receive a warm Taanishi – “welcome” in the Métis language Michif – at the 40-room lodge, not just from the people, but in the form of a beautifully made homemade quilt in each room, as well as a refreshing glass of saskatoon lemonade, handmade from berries picked on the land. It is a place to feel at home, where you can take in a deep breath, relax and recharge. Leave the stresses of everyday life at the door and become healed on the banks of the North Saskatchewan river. A detox from life, by the tools of the sacred lands and through meaningful conversations with the Indigenous folk at the Crossing.

Whether staying at the lodge or visiting the centre for the day, Métis Crossing offers the chance to cherry pick from a range of different experiences and activities to get what you want from the trip, from seeing bison and elk on the safari tour – my personal favourite – to “paddling into the past” on a traditional canoe; or from shooting at a bear-shaped target with a bow and arrow in their archery courses to learning about the healing properties of plants on a medicine tour.

Among all the enjoyment and relaxation of a typical retreat, there’s the educational element, too. It is the country’s premier destination for Métis cultural interpretation, teachings and gatherings, encouraging active participation of visitors in activities promoting appreciation of their people, customs and celebrations. They emphasise the fact that this is not a museum – it is a place to experience and interact, and learn about the people who originated in the 1700s when French and Scottish fur traders married First Nation women; about the Métis, of which there are now more than 111,000 in Alberta and over 550,000 in Canada.

When staying at the $9m complex, which is an hour-and-a-half drive from Edmonton International Airport, there is the choice of camping on the ground, hitching up at the RV park, staying in one of the 40 lodges (seven of which are family suites), or their new star-watching pods (two family pods and six doubles), where you can stay inside a snow-globe-like dome and watch the Northern Lights pass over your head.

Luxurious lodges can be impressive but also soulless. For a pristine place to stay with real, authentic soul, this is it: a healing lodge, a place to detox from life and become rejuvenated while immersed in Indigenous culture.

Here at Culture Trip we firmly believe that all travel should be culturally conscious and sustainable both to the planet, but also specifically to the places and people you visit. That is why all of our small-group, Local Insider trips are designed to give you an authentic, immersive local experience that treats local culture with the respect it deserves.

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