I often speak proudly of my Dene culture. I grew up on the Rez, surrounded by northern accents and wild food and the boreal forest.
But my Mom married my Dad before Bill c-31 so all sudden she became a registered Treaty Indian. But while she was “legally” now an Indian, she would just smile, laugh, and tell me, “I’m Métis. I’m proud to be.”
Mom grew up on the Farm. The Farm is this magical piece of land located down the road from Batoche, across the river from the St. Laurent Pilgrimage, and we would spend lazy weeks in our youth there, as well as a Boxing Day. I remember a small house filled to the brim with kids, laughter, the smell of smoke from the wood stove, and horse manure. To this day, horse manure smells like home and reminds me of my grandparents, which is both awful and hilarious. As we grew up, we learned that Mom used to chariot race, my Uncles used to chuck-wagon race, and that they rode horses down the Buffalo Pit, which is insane. Grandpa used to give us peppermint candies, and never let us touch his TV. Grandma would kick us outside when we got too loud, and my brother Trent made it game to sneak back into the small house without Grandma knowing. I would spend hours outside, feeding the horses, walking in the pens, talking to the animals. It was an amazing place for me.
Grandma and Grandpa Boyer have both passed away, as has my Uncle Terry, so for now, my Uncle Allan and his wife, Ruth, are at the farm. They are active in the community, and continue to keep horses. They often hitch their horses up to the wagon and take the grandkids out for rides, and while we all went there to celebrate Uncle’s 64th birthday, my cousin Joylynn and I decided to ask if he would hitch the horses for all of us.
The Boyers, my maternal side, we’re a small branch of the family but we are fiercely loyal to one another. My Boyer cousins are kind and sweet, mischievous and ambitious. They were always held up as the “good” ones – they would talk to each other like “Sister, can you come help me?” and “Yes brother, I would be glad too.“
My brothers and I were the ones throwing frozen hay bales on one another and trying to ride the wild horses bareback.
So knowing that, we made Joylynn ask, as she’s sweet and kind and his daughter, and he agreed. Joylynn and I said we would help.
To us, that meant a mini-Metis photoshoot.
We all have our strengths.
Thomas, Uncle Allan and Auntie Ruth gathered the horses in the pen, as Joylynn and I walked around poison ivy and were locked out of the pen, as we were basically useless. It was humbling to see how comfortable Thomas was with the horses, especially the two big ones – rather spirited and testy with all the new faces around.
We just tried to avoid the fresh green droppings everywhere.
Oh, farm life.
We hopped on the back of the wagon with the little ones, and Abby the Horse was saddled for the older kids to try out. Kate, Serenity, Harmony, Hansel, Colton – all our big kids hopped on and took turns, and if one was afraid, another held the reins and walked with them. They are so considerate to one another, and while they were being all sweet, Joylynn and I sat on the back, heckling them:
“Whaa whaa, try galloping. Your Dad could do it!”
“We used to ride wild horses!”
“Just try running, it’s fun!”
I know, we’re amazing at adulting.
We made it back to the Farm just as the skies turned grey. They did the horse-stuff while we cleaned up the BBQ and party food, and we said our goodbyes and hugs. Boyer Gatherings like this are few and far between for us, as we have kids, work, activities, and such, but seeing Uncle laugh and smile as more and more of us showed up to celebrate with him, was so great.
And Aerie riding her first horse on the Farm, like I did and my mom did, was pretty damn amazing as well.
– tenille campbell