The Waceya Métis Society has opened an office in Cloverdale.
Pronounced Wha-chee-ah, the society’s new office will serve people living in Langley, Surrey, Delta and White Rock.
President Kelly Sears said everyone at Waceya is excited to actually have a bricks and mortar place to plonk down in. Up until now, the group had been operating remotely, reaching out to offer programs in various ways.
“This is our first office, so we’re so excited to finally have a place,” said Sears, smiling. “Now we can serve the people better.”
Waceya had served Métis from the greater Langley area, but Sears said the new centre will serve all Métis in the region.
“This is an office that we’ll share with Surrey, White Rock, and Delta,” explained Sears. “We picked Cloverdale because it’s central for everyone.”
Sears said while the location is an office, it’s so much more. It’s also a community centre where Métis people can come together and learn about their culture and learn cultural practices, such as beadwork and other things.
“We’re going to teach people how to do traditional craftwork, we’re going to teach beading, we’re going to teach jigging, teach Métis fiddle—all sorts of Métis artwork—and we’re going to teach Métis history. That’s the most important.”
Sears said the centre is also open to non-Métis. She’s hoping everyone will pop in and grab a pamphlet, have a chat or coffee, and learn about Métis people and their history.
“We’re open to everyone,” she said.
“In many ways, we’re a forgotten people. We have deep history and it’s very interesting.”
Sears said some people have heard about Louis Riel, but she’s encountered many people that don’t know about Métis people at all.
She added the main goal of the new office is that it becomes a learning centre that passes on Métis culture to the next generation of children.
Sears said it’s an uphill battle.
“A lot of Métis people haven’t grown up with Métis culture. We want to change that.”
Sears said they’ll start offering programs in January, and they have a few scheduled already, but they really want to hear from people about what they are interested in. As such, Waceya is hosting a get together on Dec. 22 in an effort to reach out to the community.
“We want to get input from everyone to see what they want us to do,” she explained. “While we run it, it’s their place. This is for the Métis people.”
The open house on Dec. 22 begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Waceya Métis Society’s new office is located 5631a 176A Street in Cloverdale. The office is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sears said once the Surrey Métis group joins, in about three months, the office will be open full time.
Visit waceya.ca for more info.