Celebration Order of Day at Riel House

Article excerpt

Pending cuts fail to dampen annual event

While staff and guests of Riel House's Metis Harvest Celebration toasted the end of summer with a cob of corn Sunday, the future of the historic site's educational programming continued to hang in the balance.

"From what I understand, the house will remain open; there just won't be people in costume with interpretive programs," said director Monique Olivier, as she stood outside Riel House wearing a period dress.

"As an interpreter, my job security's at risk, for one. But also I personally feel like it's one of the best ways to learn about history and especially with a history that can be quite fraught with controversy. It's good to be able to have an intelligent conversation with knowledgeable staff about Riel instead of just offering black-and-white facts," Olivier said.

Parks Canada announced in June it would not renew its contract with the St. Boniface Historical Society to offer interpretive services at the Winnipeg historic site.

Olivier said she heard Parks Canada's latest plan is to offer audio guides.

But, she said, the grim news didn't deter the turnout, with Sunday's festivities drawing in some of the biggest crowds she'd seen at the festival.

Olivier estimated she already had about 150 people taking in the celebrations by mid-afternoon.

"It's a really joyful time out here. People are having fun and learning and eating good food. It's a nice celebration," Olivier said.

The harvest celebration is meant to mark the end of summer and offers guests a corn roast, live music and games.

Olivier said she has tried to keep enhancing the event, introducing costumed actors a few years ago to add historical perspective to the event. …