The Musée Héritage Museum was honoured to host an exhibition curated by members of the Michel Band Council in 2017. The history of this First Nation is deeply connected to the region. With family objects loaned to us by band members and pieces from the museum collection, they told their story of strength, family, injustice, challenge and perseverance.
Michel Callihoo, the namesake of the Band, was the son of Louis Kwarakwante, a Mohawk man from Kahnawake, near Montreal. For many years the family was settled in the Jasper area but as Louis’s children grew they moved throughout Western Canada. Michel worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company for 26 years, living in Lesser Slave Lake and Fort Edmonton before joining the little mission community at Lac Ste. Anne.
In 1878, Chief Michel and two headmen signed an adhesion to Treaty 6. In 1880, the Michel Callihoo Reserve was created approximately 29 km northwest of Edmonton. After many years of great pressure and lack of support from government agents, the reserve was broken up, through surrenders and enfranchisement. The Band still seeks to regain formal recognition of their status.
The Musée Héritage Museum would like to thank the Chief and Council of the Michel First Nation for allowing us to take part in the telling of their compelling story. This complex and difficult narrative is one that could only to be told by those directly involved. The Museum has always recognized the history of the Callihoo’s as an important part of our regional heritage, working to preserve artifacts, documents and the genealogy of the extended family. We are honoured to be able to work with Band members to present this history.
Special thanks to:
- Chief Gil Goerz
- Celina Loyer – Councillor
- Jessie Loyer – Councillor
- Sydney Courtepatte – Councillor
- Roy Goerz – Councillor
- Maureen Ligtvoet – Councillor
- Dayle Callihoo-Campbell – Councillor
- Dennis Callihoo
- Darrell Loyer
- Allan Goerz
- Wesley Shennan
We would also like to thank the Department of Canadian Heritage for their financial support.
To view the artifacts that were used in the exhibition please visit the Collections section of our website.
Listen to an interview with Celina Loyer, guest curator and councillor for the Michel Band, on CFWE here.
Listen to CBC radio the Doc Project “Why my grandfather dissolved the Michel First Nation and renounced his Indian status” to find out more about this story here.