Canada’s premier celebration of Métis culture and heritage is back as Back to Batoche is underway this weekend.

This year’s festival has been given the moniker Year of the Youth with several events planned to get younger Métis people more engaged.

Kristi Ross, the minister of culture, heritage, and language for the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan told MBC Radio News Métis youth are often not as celebrated the way they should be.

“As our future leaders we thought it was important that they had a time that they could be the celebration and that is why we came up with the Year of the Youth,” said Ross.

The Heritage Minister says much of the programming and events for this year’s festival are designed to get youth engaged with their culture and heritage with the hope they will continue that engagement throughout the year.

“We are really focusing on making sure the youth have their voice and they are being showcased through all of our programs at MN-S.”

The Back to Batoche festival officially kicked off yesterday and will feature several Métis events and activities throughout the weekend.

An official welcome is scheduled for Friday morning where several dignitaries are scheduled to speak including MN-S President Glen McCallum, Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.

(PHOTOS – Top left – A horse and buggy carries passengers across the festival grounds. Top right – MN-S Minister of Culture, Heritage, and Language Kristi Ross. Bottom left – Couples dance to fiddle music at the main stage. Bottom right – a tractor carries a trailer with a tarp as rain looms in the distance. Photos by Joel Willick.)