For three days every year, the Métis people of Western Canada go "back to Batoche," the site of the Battle of Batoche, fought by Gabriel Dumont and Louis Riel in 1885.

"My grandmother used to tell me the stories of how they shot through the building," said Margaret McDougall, crowned 'Mrs. Batoche' for the weekend.

"We can still see the bullet holes," she said of a nearby church.

McDougall's love of Métis  history and culture is part of why she was chosen as the matriarch of the events in Batoche. She is also distantly related to both Riel and Dumont.

Back to Batoche Days is her opportunity each year to share her knowledge and memories with young Métis people who come to the event from as far as British Columbia and Quebec.


Margaret Sophie McDougall, aka Mrs Batoche, is a Métis elder passionate about passing on her culture to a younger generation of Métis people. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

'It's going to grow'

The weekend in Batoche includes a camping component — most camp a few hundred metres from the festival site in tents and trailers.

"We usually start off with a pilgrimage, just down the road in St. Laurent," said Lisa Mccallum, a longtime Back to Batoche attendee.

"Then we come and gather and celebrate. Family, laughter, a lot of story telling."


Lisa Mccallum visits Back to Batoche Days every year with her family at the Batoche National Historic Site. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

It's important for Mccallum to include her family and her children in the events and cultural teachings. Her son speaks French, though the language skipped her generation.

For Margaret McDougall, the reintroduction of the language and culture is a positive sign.

"It was forgotten for several years and now they're getting back into it," said the 89-year-old.

"I think it's going to grow and there's going to be more of the Métis language being taught."

The weekend is focused on children, especially during the jigging and talent shows.

"Then there's the voyageur games which are the traditional games for the Métis," said Lisa Mccallum.

Back to Batoche has been celebrated since the 1970s near the Batoche Historical Site.

Children's games are hosted at the site of the battle, over 130 years ago.

"I think it's very important the young people nowadays learn about that," said McDougall.