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The History of the Métis

Prior to Canada’s crystallization as a nation, a new Aboriginal people emerged out of the relations of Indian women and European men. While the initial offspring of these Indian and European unions were individuals who simply possessed mixed ancestry, subsequent intermarriages between these mixed ancestry children resulted in the genesis of a new Aboriginal people with a distinct identity, culture and consciousness in west central North America – the Métis Nation.

The Métis are recognized by the government as one of the recognised Aboriginal peoples in Canada. They developed as the mixed-race descendants of unions between, generally, First Nations women and European men, but over time there were more intermarriages within the group. The term historically described all mixed-race people of First Nations and European ancestry. Within generations in the 19th century, particularly in central and western Canada, a distinct Métis culture developed. Since the late 20th century, the Metis people have been recognized as an Aboriginal people, with formal recognition equal to that given to the Inuit and First Nations peoples.

The early mothers were usually Mi'kmaq, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Cree, Ojibwe, Menominee, or Maliseet, or of mixed descent from these peoples and Europeans. After New France was ceded to Great Britain's control, at one time there was an important distinction between French Métis born of francophone voyageur fathers, and the Anglo-Métis (known as "countryborn") descended from English or Scottish fathers. Today these two cultures have essentially coalesced into one Métis tradition. Such mixed-race people were referred to by other terms, many of which are now considered to be offensive, such as Mixed-bloods, Half-breeds, Bois-Brűlés, Bungi, Black Scots, and Jackatars.

The Métis homeland includes regions scattered across Canada, as well as parts of the northern United States (specifically northwest Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana). These were areas in which there was considerable intermarriage due to the 19th-century fur trade.

Learn more about them from Wikapedia.

Metis in Canada

Del Majore, MSW with the Indigenous Health Program, discusses Métis history, culture and the impacts of colonization on Métis communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In 2011, 451,795 people in Canada identified as Métis. They represented 32.3% of the total Aboriginal population and 1.4% of the total Canadian population. Most Métis people today are not the direct result of intermarriage between First Nations and Europeans. The vast majority of those who identify as Métis are the descendants of unions between generations of Métis individuals.

Over the past century, countless Métis have assimilated into the general European Canadian populations, making Métis heritage (and thereby aboriginal ancestry) more common than is generally realized. Geneticists estimate that 50 percent of today's population in Western Canada have some Aboriginal blood. They could be classified as Métis by any genetic measure but most are not part of its ethnic culture. There is substantial controversy over who qualifies as Métis. Unlike among First Nations peoples, there is no distinction between "status" and "non-status" Métis. The legal definition is not yet fully developed.

Understanding the Métis Nation in BC by Bruce Dumont
Have you ever wondered what the difference in language, culture, heritage, and citizenship is between Métis people and First Nations in Canada? Did you know that since 2006, the Métis Nation in British Columbia has had a Métis Nation Relationship Accord with the Province of BC?

Metis Anthem

We Are Métis

Gabriel Dumont: Métis Legend

Gabriel Dumont Institute
The mission of the Gabriel Dumont Institute is to promote the renewal and development of Métis culture through research; materials development, collection, and distribution; and the design, development, and delivery of Métis-specific educational programs and services.
The Métis Nation of Ontario

Métis National Council
The Virtual Museum of Métis History and Culture
Back to Batoche
The Buffalo Lake Métis Site
A Late Nineteenth Century Settlement in the Parkland of Central Alberta (1988) (pdf)
Caslan Métis Settlement
Land Use Planning Inventory (pdf)
Father Ritchot

Return to our History of the First Nations Page



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