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Alberta’s first Métis cultural interpretive centre was built on the original river lots of Métis settlers, one of three recognized Indigenous peoples in Canada. Métis Crossing brings to life the unique culture of the Métis with costumed interpreters, hands-on activities, crafts, and food. Visitors can explore a traditional harvesting camp, a river lot farmyard complete with traditional homesteads, gardens, and real farm animals. There’s also an indoor museum, craft and skills demonstrations, a bison paddock, and a voyageur canoe experience that lets you step back in time and paddle like Métis fur traders once did.

Juanita Marois is the CEO at Métis Crossing and a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta. We asked her about this unique attraction, how it adapted during the pandemic, and the road forward for Alberta’s tourism industry to come back better and stronger than ever.

Juanita Marois - Executive Director, Métis Crossing
Juanita Marois, CEO at Métis Crossing

What is the most valuable part of Alberta’s tourism industry?

The most valuable part of Alberta’s tourism industry is diversity. You can choose to travel west one day and be in our picturesque mountains, explore glaciers, and discover endless trails; then east the next to find hoodoos, explore dinosaurs, and discover historical destinations. Some choose to go south to find wide-open prairies and unique places; and finally, you have those that go north to discover cultural centres, pristine forests and lakes, and unexpected outdoor experiences.

We know that Albertans are playing a key role in the initial economic recovery of our local tourism industry. What would you say to encourage Albertans to continue exploring their own backyard, even now that it’s possible to travel elsewhere again?


When an Albertan explores their own backyard, they are supporting their community. The value of the visitor economy goes deeper than many realize – tourism dollars are infused back into our province in so many ways.

Juanita Marois, CEO at Métis Crossing

The industry is not just destinations, but other obvious stops like the restaurants and gas stations that fuel trips. And it is the indirect connections we as locals do not think about like the farmer providing the ingredients to the local baker, the baker who is giving families a fun (and tasty) experience, the laundry services company that’s washing the linens at the bakery, and the landscaper who is outside ensuring that the street the bakery is on is a beautiful experience.

We need our neighbours more than ever before. Tourism is rooted so deeply into our communities and without local tourism many businesses and families will suffer.

How did your business evolve during the pandemic? What changes or new aspects to your business will you take with you moving forward?

I am so proud of Métis Crossing! With the support of our partners, we spent the pandemic preparing for growth. We broke ground on our Boutique Lodge so that by this fall as tourism starts to rebound in new ways, we will have 40 rooms ready to welcome people to Métis Crossing for overnight stays.

The team spent time planning new experiences with health and safety at the forefront, we rethought how families and other explorers would interact at our destination, and we focused on the creation of a unique Indigenous culinary experience for our guests, unique programming, and signature experiences.

All these things will be embedded into our destination moving forward. The pandemic helped us slow down and deeply appreciate all we have to offer at Métis Crossing – and now we can share that with every visitor.

We know that health and safety is top of mind for everyone right now. How is your business offering visitors peace of mind?

We were fortunate enough to be open briefly last summer. This time taught us so much about health and safety. Métis Crossing shifted to a timed reservation approach allowing for small experiences within cohorts, distancing, and peace of mind. Our staff were trained and practiced the necessary protocols – and it was a successful season with no outbreaks or issues.

Métis Crossing has taken these adjustments forward into this summer season. While we can be more accommodating to an unstructured visitor experience, we have kept and encourage those that want to explore Métis Crossing to plan, reserve, and book. Our extensive cleaning measures, staff screening, contact tracking, and distancing all remain in place. While masks are not required in our indoor spaces, they are recommended.

Travellers of all ages will have immense peace of mind in our wide-open spaces.

What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?

Métis Crossing is Alberta’s first major Métis cultural destination. Our mandate is to share the distinct Indigenous story of the Métis with all people.


This is the future of Alberta’s tourism industry. We have a vast landscape of Indigenous stories to tell across this province in a time where being educated and understanding the experiences of Indigenous people is critical.

Juanita Marois, CEO at Métis Crossing

My hope is that Alberta continues to stand up as a leader in Indigenous cultural experiences and we are so proud that we can be a safe place for all people to come, ask questions, and discover our important part of Alberta’s story.

How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?

There are two ways in my mind for our industry to work together to recover and rebuild.

The value of tourism is no question post-pandemic and industry needs to work together to continue to build strong tourism advocates and champions. By working together, we can help Albertans understand how a rich tourism economy benefits our communities, schools, infrastructure, and provincial pride. We all need to remind our visitors of this and give them the opportunity to share their connection to the industry – because we all have one and it is the role of industry to help an individual see that connection more clearly.

Secondly, it is all about collaboration. For me it is not just “come visit Métis Crossing” anymore – now it is “Go East of Edmonton!”, “Come see what Central Alberta has to offer”, “Explore everything in the Smoky Lake Region”. I know that if they are visiting us, they have the opportunity to explore so much more in the area – and I want Métis Crossing team members to speak to that and promote our area as a whole.

What do you wish the rest of the world knew about tourism in Alberta?

We are diverse! From mountains to hoodoos. From amusement parks to rich cultural experiences. From new and unexpected to deeply historical. From burgers and pancakes to elevated cuisine.

Alberta is one of those destinations that a visitor can come and experience something unique every day – and still have something new to discover the next time they come.

What is your favourite “hidden gem” in Alberta?

I have to say Métis Crossing – and not because it is our destination but because of the things we hear from people after they visit us.

I love watching faces and hearing the gasps when people step onto our Cultural Gathering Centre’s back deck and take in the North Saskatchewan River. I love hearing kids asking their parents for 10 more minutes on our playground. I love when eyes light up with pride after they have learned a jig, created a traditional craft, or hit the bullseye during an archery lesson. And I love when people say, “I had no idea this was here!” They always come back again and almost always bring someone new with them the second time around.

What is your favourite memory of travelling in Alberta?

As a mom, my new favorite memories are all centered around rediscovering the places that I hold so dearly now with my children. While I know the importance and diversity of our province, my children are still discovering that – and I get to see all the places that I have loved through their eyes. From exploring our community trails, road tripping to Jasper, and planning new outings and excursions. My favourite memories of travelling in Alberta have become sharing my favorite Alberta destinations with my kids.

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