When Lloyd Gwin first volunteered to play Santa in the 1970s, he loved it, he said.
Gwin would ride around on a snowmobile delivering presents to families of his colleagues at the volunteer fire department in High Level, Alta.
But for him, the costume was always missing something. His holiday wish was to dress up as what he calls Métis Santa. This year, that came true.
“Usually the Métis Nation of Alberta has a Christmas party for all the kids here in the city and surrounding area, but this year because of COVID-19, like everybody else, those plans got cancelled,” he said in an interview with CBC’s Edmonton AM.
The organization decided to do a video clip as part of a series leading up to Christmas, Gwin said, and they asked him to be Santa. Gwin, who is Métis, knew this was his moment.
A Métis Santa wears a sash rather than a belt, mittens and moccasins instead of gloves and boots. In the video, Gwin reads from a book called Métis Christmas Mittens by Leah Marie Dorion.
“It’s very important to me because oftentimes we get blended in with the rest of society,” he said. “In the process, some of the traditions and the culture gets washed away, so what the Métis Nation is trying to do is to pass that knowledge onto the youth.”
Gwin’s message for kids this year?
“Be safe, wear your mask when you’re out, wash your hands, and hopefully next year we can be able to get together with our family and friends, and to have a very happy Christmas.”