There is a growing need for a connection to the land and culture, shares Water Spirit Spa business owner

What’s your name and where are you from? 

Tansi, my name is Karen Telford from Fishing Lake Metis Settlement (pak’cawânisihk), my family includes Durocher, Desjarlais, Poitras and Quinney. 

Could you describe your business in one sentence? 

You will experience the rich tapestry of Metis culture amidst Alberta’s breathtaking Boreal Forest with our holistic cultural retreats, offering land-based experiences, massage therapy and serene lakeside camping on one of Alberta’s most beautiful Metis Settlements. 

What’s the best moment you’ve had with your business? 

There have been many moments, but probably hearing and seeing the responses after an event on the sense of peacefulness, happiness and connection and how much they loved the overall experience and want to learn more. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had with your business? 

Starting from zero, we have been working hard on building our infrastructure and enhancing the beauty of the land and we are not done yet. The costs and time to start and grow a business have been challenging, lots of learning along the way. 

Why do you run this business? 

I believe there is a growing need for connection to the land and culture, including language, land-based learning, ceremony along with holistic wellness. Although I grew up on the land and practiced Métis dance and culture, living off the land, there was still a lot of internalized oppression and disconnection from Indigenous culture. As Metis people, we have ancestors who are First Nations and European and it’s important to understand and appreciate all the parts that make us unique. 

Who is your inspiration? 

I don’t know if I have any one specific person, I draw my inspiration from all of my immediate family members, along with my parents, grandparents, great-great-grandparents who have experienced oppression and loss of culture through colonization, residential schools, and the 60’s scoop. My family has been directly impacted by all of these and as a result, we have faced and continue to face issues around loss of culture, loss of language, addiction, poverty, and domestic violence. Despite all of that, many of us are doing well and are thriving and by doing so creating change. 

What is your hope for the next seven generations? 

I hope that our future generations will break the cycle of addiction and trauma. I hope they will re-learn traditional language(s) and culture is maintained. I hope they know their history and that the water and land is safe for future generations to continue our traditional ways of life. 

What’s one thing you wish more people knew about your business, yourself, or your community?

As a family business we are hard-working and driven, we value metis culture and maintain traditional values and practices. 

What ITA resource is most valuable to you? 

Funding support for networking and growing business, along with access to resources to grow my business. 

Lastly, in commemorating Truth and Reconciliation Day this month, what would you like to see done regarding reconciliation? 

I would like to see full language immersion in our communities and culture every day, not only on special occasions.