Who are the Métis people?
People of mixed First Nations and European ancestry who identify themselves
as Métis people and are accepted as such by a Métis community and or its
They are distinct from First Nations, Inuit or non-Aboriginal peoples.
The Métis history and culture draws on diverse ancestral origins such as
Ojibway and Cree, Scottish, Irish, French. (Government of Alberta definition)
Métis are people who self-identify as Métis and are not registered under the
Indian Act (Government of Manitoba definition)
Article 10 of the Métis Nation Saskatchewan Constitution defines "Métis " as:
'Métis ' means an Aboriginal person who self-identifies as Métis , who is distinct
from Indian and Inuit & is a descendant of those Métis who received or were
entitled to receive land grants and / or Scrip under the provision of the
Manitoba Act, 1870 or the Dominion Lands Act, as enacted from time to time.
A person of Aboriginal descent who is accepted by the Métis Nation and / or
( Amended Dec. 13 / 97 )
We are a proud nation who's history and traditions date back to the early
1600's. Our culture is a rich and vigorous one. We invite you to share and
learn about our people here on our site. This page is dedicated to preserving
our culture and our proud heritage.
|History is full of Métis Men and Women who have contributed greatly to the
history of Canada.
Red River Colony, settlement on the Red and Assiniboine rivers in what is now Manitoba and North
Dakota, founded 1812 by the earl of SELKIRK. From 1801 Selkirk had sought British support for gained
control of the company in 1810 did his scheme become practical. In 1811 the company granted Selkirk
some 300 000 km2 in the Winnipeg Basin, which he called ASSINIBOIA.
Under Miles MACDONELL, Selkirk's choice as governor, an advance party was sent from Scotland to
Hudson Bay in July 1811 and finally arrived on the Red River on 29 August 1812. A second group joined
them in October. Macdonell established his base near the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers
(now downtown WINNIPEG) with a subsidiary centre 130 km south at Pembina (North Dakota).
Selkirk, Thomas Douglas
The Earl of Selkirk's motives in founding colonies in PEI, Upper Canada and Red River were a complex
mixture of humanitarianism and personal ambition (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-1346).
The settlers had difficulty becoming self-sufficient, and only the assistance of resident NORTH WEST
COMPANY traders and local freemen enabled them to survive. Naturally bellicose and fearing that new
settlers would strip the area of food supplies, Macdonell attempted to monopolize the region's provision
trade through the PEMMICAN PROCLAMATION of 8 January 1814, by which he prohibited the export of
provisions from the region. This threat to the NWC's transcontinental transportation system, which took
provisions, especially PEMMICAN, from the area to supply its canoe brigades, led the NOR'WESTERS and
their MÉTIS allies to retaliate.
In early 1815 the Nor'Westers seduced many colonists back to Canada by promising better land.
Macdonell was arrested, the remaining inhabitants withdrew, and the settlement was burned. Later that
year the colony was reoccupied under Colin Robertson, and Robert SEMPLE replaced Macdonell as
governor. Continual complaint with the NWC led in 1816 to the SEVEN OAKS INCIDENT, after which the
Nor'Westers again evacuated the colony. Meanwhile, Selkirk had recruited new settlers among the DE
MEURONS, discharged mercenary soldiers, and was leading this group to Red River when he learned of
On August 13 he seized the NWC's FORT WILLIAM, which lay on his route, and on 10 January 1817 sent a
force to retake Fort Douglas. When Selkirk finally arrived that July, he distributed land and restored the
settlers' confidence, promising them schools and clergymen. Roman Catholic priests arrived in 1818, but
not until 1820 did a Protestant missionary come, and John West was Anglican rather than Gaelic-speaking
Presbyterian, a source of grievance to the Scots settlers for years.
mixed blood) used in Canada and some parts of the northern US to describe people of mixed North
American Indian-European descent.
It is important to define specific meanings for the term as used in this discussion, while cautioning that
writers past and present have not achieved consensus on the matter. Written with a small m, métis is an
old French word meaning "mixed," and it is used here in a general sense for people of dual Indian-white
ancestry. Capitalized, Métis is often used but not universally accepted as a generic term for all persons
of this biracial descent. It may variously refer to a distinctive socio cultural heritage, a means of ethnic
self-identification, and sometimes a political and legal category, more or less narrowly defined. (For
example, Alberta's Métis Betterment Act of 1938 defined Métis as persons "of mixed white and INDIAN
blood having not less than one-quarter Indian blood,"not including those people already defined under
Canada's INDIAN ACT as treaty or nontreaty Indians.)
This complexity arises from the fact that biological race mixture [Fr, métissage] by itself does not
determine a person's social, ethnic or political identity. Many North American whites have some
aboriginal ancestry, and rates of European genetic admixture among status-Indian groups in eastern
and central Canada range in some instances from 20% to over 40%. Biologically, métissage has gone on
since earliest European contact, but overtime and in different areas people of that ancestry have grown
up and lived out their lives in a vast variety of circumstances, leading them and their descendants to be
categorized and to classify themselves by many different criteria.
On Canada's Atlantic seaboard families and communities of mixed descent were identifiable in the
1600s, although not classified according to race. Early and often casual unions between European
fishermen and native women from Acadia to Labrador produced uncounted progeny who matured as
natives among their maternal relatives. Those among the MALISEET were known as "Malouidit" because
so many of their fathers came from St Malo on the Brittany coast of France. In Acadia, many French took
native wives, and some communities became largely mixed. The capitaines des sauvages who served
the French governors as interpreters, intermediaries and distributors of annual presents to the native
people were commonly of mixed parentage.
Some such offspring were born of formal church marriages, as Acadian families such as the Denys and
d'Entremonts forged both kinship and trading ties with the MICMAC. During the 17th century, French
officials supported such marriages in hopes of better converting the natives and building up the
population of New France. "Our young men will marry your daughters and we shall be one people,"
Samuel de CHAMPLAIN reportedly told his native allies, and subsequent administrators continued to
encourage those mixed unions which were church-sanctified.
Problems arose, however. Both the natives and the French traders who sojourned among them had a
distressing tolerance for unions unblessed by Christian rite, and many Frenchmen took up "savage"
ways themselves. As New France began its second century, policy shifted against intermarriage -
reflecting, too, the increased availability of white wives within the colony, both FILLES DU ROI and
native-born. The ideal of "one people" (French, incorporating aboriginal)faded. Countless families, both
French and native, had become genetically mixed, but native communities, as such, were not
assimilated. Nor did biological métissage in eastern Canada yield a biracial population that persisted as
socioculturally or politically distinct. Indeed, despite their numbers, people of mixed descent are
difficult to identify in early records of New France; they either remained among their mothers' kin as
natives or were baptized with French names, and in almost all instances went on record solely as
The official discouraging of mixed unions in New France was probably one among many factors that
fostered the growth of the first distinguishably Métis communities around and beyond the Great Lakes
from the 1690s on. Many men who evidently preferred the freedom and opportunities of life in the
native country to the regulation of church and state in the home colony found livelihoods at the trading
and military posts that were carrying French influence into the interior of the continent. Their native
families, whom they might or might not legitimize in the missionaries' terms, had formed nuclei of
settlement at several dozen localities by the time of the Conquest(1759-60). Numerous American and
Canadian towns and cities(eg, Detroit and Michilimackinac in Michigan; Sault Ste Marie in Ontario;
Chicago and Peoria in Illinois; Milwaukee, Green Bay and Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin) had their
origins in these informal biracial communities. The sizes of these populations are sporadically reported.
As of 1700 the Jesuit missionary Étiennede Carheil was deploring the lewdness and apostasy of the
hundred or more VOYAGEURS and COUREURS DE BOIS residing with native women around
Carheil and other outsider-critics to the contrary, these communities achieved a moral and social order
of their own. French Catholicism remained a part of their heritage, even if attenuated by isolation.
Native constraints also set moral limits. Unions with native women involved commitments to and
reciprocities with aboriginal kin and neighbours, and earned their own descriptive term, marriage à la
façon du pays, "according to the custom of the country." Fathers often lived out their lives with these
families, whether formally employed at the forts or subsisting as gens libres, freemen who supplied the
posts or served intermittently as guides, interpreters or voyageurs. Game, fish, wild rice and maple
sugar furnished sustenance, supplemented by the small-scale slash-and-burn or
"burnt-stump"agriculture that may have caused Great Lakes Métis tobe labelled bois brûlés or chicots.