It has been a busy start to the year for staff at Elk Island National Park (EINP).
After handling the park's plains bison herd early last week, staff transferred 25 of them to Flying Dust First Nation in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan on Friday (Feb.1).
"They came flying out of the semi and they were running full tilt out into the pasture lands," said Jesse Morin, corporate development officer for the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. "The whole community is talking about Flying Dust and their buffalo right now, so everybody's excited and everybody's happy about the project."
In recent years, Flying Dust has taken a somewhat aggressive stance on food sovereignty, according to Morin.
"They have a market garden, they feed their people with vegetables and they have chicken coops," he said. "The buffalo ranch is just one more fantastic addition to this food sovereignty."
The band also plans to incorporate the bison into the local school to teach the younger generation about the cultural significance of the animal.
EINP superintendent Dale Kirkland said they are trying to help restore those connections by supporting the re-location of bison to places such as Flying Dust.
"We recognize the role of Indigenous peoples in conserving, restoring and presenting natural and cultural heritage, especially here at Elk Island," he noted. "We're certainly honoured to play a role in providing bison to Indigenous communities."
Past Indigenous translocations include 89 plains bison calves to the Blackfeet nation in Montana (2016) and 25 wood bison to Saulteaux First Nation near North Battleford, Saskatchewan (2018).

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