Bison are now back on Witchekan Lake First Nation after a century and a half of absence.

On Monday, 20 pregnant heifers and two bull bison made the journey to the First Nation from Carstairs, Alberta.

Witchekan Lake First Nation Chief Raymon Harris said that the First nation has been trying to bring the bison back for as long as he can remember.

“We feel like they bring blessings of unity and health, so we feel like they’ll bring our people wellness,” he said.

The First Nation plans to build up the bison herd and eventually gift or trade bison to other First Nation communities. The bison will also provide more land-based learning opportunities for members of the First Nation.

“Land based programs for all of our band members young and old alike that want to be part of this culture, learning and understanding, this is our culture right here,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron, who is a member of Witchekan Lake First nation.

Traditionally bison were a main source of food, clothing, and tools for many First Nations, they were also a symbol of identity and culture. Many First Nations across Saskatchewan hope to bring bison to their lands in the future and Cameron said that is something the FSIN wants to work towards.

The bison are settled and situated on roughly 500 acres of land.

(Photo by Jenna Smith.)