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Definition of Métis

Registry and Membership with the Metis Nation of Alberta is based upon a definition of Metis, which was passed at the Annual General Assembly held in Edmonton in August 2003.

“Métis means a person who self-identifies as a Métis, is distinct from other aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry, and is accepted by the Métis Nation.”

Historical Proof: refers to evidence of an ancestor who received a land grant or a scrip grant under the Manitoba Act or the Dominion Lands Act, or who was recognized as a Métis in other government, church or community records.

Historic Métis Nation: refers to the Aboriginal people then known as Métis or Half-breeds who resided in the Historic Métis Nation Homeland.

Historic Métis Nation Homeland: is the area of land in west central North America used and occupied as the traditional territory of the Métis.

Métis Nation: means the Aboriginal people descended from the Historic Métis Nation, which now comprised of all Métis Nation peoples and is one of the “aboriginal peoples of Canada” as defined in s.35 of the Constitution Act 1982.

Distinct from other Aboriginal peoples means distinct for cultural and nationhood purposes.

The Métis are one of three distinct Aboriginal peoples of Canada, recognized under section 35 in the 1982 Constitution. Fiercely independent, the Métis were instrumental in the development of western Canada.

The Métis people were born from the marriages of Cree, Ojibwa and Salteaux women, and the French and Scottish fur traders, beginning in the mid-1600s. Scandinavian, Irish and English stock was added to the mix as western Canada was explored.

The word Métis comes from the Latin "miscere", to mix, and was used originally to describe the children of native women and French men. Other terms for these children were Country-born, Black Scots, and Half-breeds.

The Métis quickly became intermediaries between European and Indian cultures, working as guides, interpreters, and provisionary to the new forts and new trading companies. Their villages sprang up from the Great Lakes to the Mackenzie Delta. The Métis Homeland encompasses parts of present-day Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Métis culture was a fusion of French, English and Indian influences that took root and flourished until the late 1800s. The Métis developed a unique language called Michif. Their fiddlers combined jugs and reels into their music. Métis attire included woven sashes, embroidered gun sheaths, deer hide caps, quilled and beaded pipe bags. The Métis developed technologies such as the Red River Cart. Expert hunters, they made formidable soldiers.

They also developed a unique political and legal culture, with strong democratic traditions. The Métis had elected buffalo councils to organize buffalo hunts. By 1816, the Métis had challenged the Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly in the fur trade, and began to develop a national consciousness.

The Métis formed the majority of the population at the Red River Colony. Louis Riel’s provisional government negotiated the entry of Manitoba into Canadian confederation in 1870. But federal promises of land in the Manitoba Act were not fulfilled. After ten years of delay, the government introduced the now-notorious scrip system. These certificates for land or money replaced direct land grants. Speculators who followed the Scrip Commissions snapped up scrip. Aware that the Métis were defrauded of their land, the government ignored the abuse and facilitated the business of the speculators.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 made the crown responsible for the well being of aboriginal peoples and forbid the dismembering of their lands. But the federal government refused to acknowledge its responsibilities for the Métis, and their political rights as a sovereign people were not recognized.

Impoverished and frustrated, the Métis appealed to Louis Riel once again and in 1885 he led a resistance in North-western Saskatchewan, near the Métis settlements of Duck Lake and Batoche. Despite support from farmers, Blackfoot and Cree, the Canadian army crushed the resistance. Riel and his provisional government were arrested and tried, and Riel was executed in Regina on November 16, 1885.

By the 1930s, associations to lobby for a land base were formed in Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 1936, Alberta government granted 1,280,000 acres of land for Métis Settlements, a precedent that has allowed the contemporary Métis of Alberta to obtain limited control of housing, health, child welfare and legal institutions.

The 1960s saw the emergence of renewed political organizations. During the constitutional talks of 1982 and enshrined in the Constitution Act, 1982 the Métis were recognized as one of the three aboriginal peoples of Canada.

In 1992, Louis Riel was recognized as one of the founders of Confederation by the same government that had called him a demented rebel and hanged him.

Métis National Council

    »  Telephone (780)455-2200 Toll-Free Alberta (800)252-7553 Fax (780)452-8946
100-11738 Kingsway Ave, Edmonton, AB T5G 0X5
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November 25, 2015
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