Honoured couple - Maurice and Jean Cardinal were honoured as Mr. and Mrs. Batoche at the 50th annual Back to Batoche Festival in July.

Maurice and Jean Cardinal were completely surprised to be honoured as Mr. and Mrs. Batoche at the Back to Batoche Festival. The event commemorates the Battle of Batoche that took place in 1885, following the Métis people’s request for Louis Riel to help them advocate for their rights. The Cardinals have attended the gathering many times but never suspected they would become recipients of the award, which honours individuals for their contributions to the Métis community.
Family and heritage are very important to the Cardinals, who recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. Maurice spent his early years in the Qu’Appelle Valley until he started attending school in Sintaluta. After completing Grade 10, he moved to Rouleau and began farming with his uncle. He later returned to the Sintaluta area to farm with his parents, where he soon met Jean. They were married on July 25, 1964 and started a family of their own, raising four children. Their family has now grown to include 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Sharing their Métis heritage has been an important part of the Cardinal’s lives. Maurice was the president of the Métis Society Sintaluta branch for more than 30 years.
He and Jean gave many hours to assist with Métis programs, whether it meant cooking meals for people on a trail ride or hosting social events in Lebret. When participation in the Sintaluta Métis Society diminished due to members relocating, he helped organize a group in Indian Head that could also include members from Sintaluta and Wolseley. The couple later assisted the Indian Head Museum with a Métis history project that was completed in 2019.
“I always volunteered to do whatever was necessary; we kept busy,” Maurice recalled.
Others in the Métis community recognized the value of these efforts and nominated them for a special honour.
The Cardinals attended the 50th annual Back to Batoche festival last month with two of their children
and other family members. Like thousands of people, they enjoyed visiting with relatives and friends while participating in cultural activities like a bison roast and traditional entertainment like fiddling and jigging. However, the couple was unaware that they had been selected for any particular honor.
“Our kids all knew and they never said a word!” Jean commented.
Their first clue came when a teenager addressed them as Mr. and Mrs. Batoche. Shortly afterwards, Marg Friesen, director for Métis Nation-Saskatchewan Eastern Region 3, guided them to a seat at the front of a crowded pavilion for the grand entry and opening ceremonies. This puzzled them but they soon understood the reason as they were presented with beaded medallions and sashes designating them as Mr. and Mrs. Batoche.
The couple was very surprised but appreciates the honour. They greatly enjoyed their time at the festival and are looking forward to attending again next year with their family.

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