Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the Métis?
The Métis are a distinct Indigenous people with both First Nations and Euro-Settler ancestry. They arose out of the fur trade, in the late 1700s, in the interior of west-central North America as the children of First Nations women and Euro-Canadian/European fur trade employees. Forming the Métis Nation, these mixed heritage children developed families and communities and had their own unique culture, traditions, languages (such as Michif), and way of life.
What is the Métis Nation?
The Métis Nation is an Indigenous nation with its own history, culture, founding stories, languages, flag and lifeways, all of which originated in Western Canada. The Métis are one of three constitutionally recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Much like other Canadians today, the Métis live all across Canada and elsewhere in the world. However, the majority of the Métis population lives largely within the Prairie provinces.
Where is the Métis Nation Homeland?
The Métis Nation Homeland includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, northwest Ontario, northeast British Columbia, the southern Northwest Territories, northern Montana and North Dakota. The Métis Nation Homeland includes the distinct Métis communities that developed along the fur trade routes and across the northwest, including wintering settlements, road allowance communities, and many towns and larger cities, such as Winnipeg and Edmonton.
What is the Métis population in Canada?
It is estimated that there are about 450,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada.
Where does the term “Métis” come from?
In its original meaning, Métis is derived from the French verb “métisser” which means to mix races. In the meaning adapted by most contemporary Métis and the Métis National Council, the Métis are a self-defining people who self-identify as being Métis and recognize that their ancestors made a political decision to identify as Métis based on shared kinship ties, languages, histories and culture.
What is the Métis National Council?
Founded in 1983, the Métis National Council — made up of provincial Métis governing members in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario — is the Métis Nation’s governing body. The MNC represents the Métis both at the national and international levels. It receives its mandate and direction from the democratically elected leadership of the five provincial governing members and advances their desires and aspirations.
What is Michif?
Michif is the heritage language of the Métis Nation and is often referred to as “heritage” Michif. It is one of the world’s most distinct languages, and consists of Cree verbs and verb phrases and French nouns. Michif has evolved in its pronunciation, and its Cree and French components are pronounced differently than in its ancestral languages. Michif is written phonetically and at present is non-standardized, although a common orthography is developing.
How many Métis speak Michif?
Heritage Michif is an endangered language. Likely fewer than a few hundred people speak it. The ability to speak Michif ranges from those who are fully fluent (mostly people in their 70s and older) to individuals with various levels of comprehension (people in their 60s to young children learning words and phrases in school). Most Michif speakers live in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota and Montana, where Michif originated as our heritage language. Heritage Michif is currently critically endangered. Other Michif languages, such as French Michif, which is predominately French, and Northern Saskatchewan Michif, which is predominately Cree, are less endangered.
Who was Louis Riel?
Louis Riel (1844-1885) was a leader of the Métis, the founder of Manitoba, and a passionate defender of Métis rights. He sought to preserve Métis rights and culture against Canadian colonization. He led two resistance movements — the Red River Resistance in Manitoba, 1869-70 and the 1885 Northwest Resistance in Saskatchewan at Batoche — against the government of Canada. He was hanged for treason in 1885. However, the Métis see his execution as judicial murder. In 1992, Parliament passed a resolution recognizing Riel as the founder of Manitoba.
What are the Alberta Métis Settlements?
The Alberta Métis Settlements are the only recognized Métis land base in Canada. The eight Métis settlements, comprising 1.25 million acres, are located primarily in east-central and northern Alberta. Each settlement is governed by an elected five-person council that makes bylaws on matters of local governance, is responsible for their settlement’s membership and land allocations, and administers and delivers programs and services.
Who was Gabriel Dumont?
Gabriel Dumont (1837-1906) is best remembered as being the military leader of the Métis provisional government during the 1885 Northwest Resistance. He was the acknowledged leader of the South Branch (Batoche) Métis, but recognized that the Métis needed Louis Riel to address many of their grievances, including their land tenure. Gabriel Dumont spent his life serving his people. After the resistance concluded, he lived in the United States and worked in the Wild West Show to provide for Métis and First Nations orphans displaced from the fighting.
What is the Gabriel Dumont Institute?
The Gabriel Dumont Institute, incorporated in 1980, is the educational, cultural and training institution of Saskatchewan’s Métis. GDI operates many programs and services, including the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program, Gabriel Dumont College, the Dumont Technical Institute, Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment, the Gabriel Dumont Institute Scholarship Fund, and the Publishing Department and GDI Press.
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