IN DEPTH: ABORIGINAL CANADIANS|
CBC News Online | July 02, 2004
Who are the Métis?
The Métis are a distinct nation of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples born of a mixture of European and native bloodlines. The Métis are primarily located on the Prairies but also live in Ontario, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. Census data estimate that approximately 200,000 individuals continue to self-identify with the historic Métis Nation today.
Originally, “Métis” was used to describe the children of native women and French fur traders. As the fur trade expanded, English, Scandinavian and Irish bloodlines also became part of the Métis nation.
During the early history of Métis settlements, the Métis acted as intermediaries between European and Indian cultures. Working as interpreters, guides and mediators for forts and trading companies, they came to establish distinct settlements across the northern Prairie provinces. Louis Riel, seen by many as the founder of Manitoba, was a Métis born in the Red River Settlement, located near present-day Winnipeg.
Since Manitoba became part of Confederation in 1870, negotiated by a Métis leader, the Métis have continued to endure more than 100 years of struggle for recognition as a legally distinct nation. It wasn’t until the Constitution Act of 1982 that they were recognized, along with Indian and Inuit, as one of the three Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
What is the native language of the Métis?
Métis communities established a distinct social order based on a fusion of French, English and native culture. Likewise, “Michif,” the Métis language, combines Cree, French and English words.
Do the Métis have any land claims?
Landlessness among Métis in Alberta sparked intense political activism during the Depression. In response, the Alberta government passed the Métis Population Betterment Act in 1938. The Act set aside eight colonies for Métis Settlement Associations.
In 1985, after the Canadian Constitution recognized the Métis Nation, the Alberta government passed a resolution committing the province to transfer the titles to Métis settlements to the Métis people. The lands were protected through an amendment to the Alberta Act. The resolution passed into legislation with the 1990 Métis Settlement Act.
Today, the eight Métis settlements remain—located in the northern part of Alberta. They include parts of Paddle Prairie, Peavine, Gift Lake, East Prairie, Buffalo Lake, Kikino, Elizabeth and Fishing Lake. They comprise more than 500,000 hectares, much of it covered by forest, pasture and farmland.
The Alberta settlements are the only constitutionally protected Métis lands in Canada.
Ont. Métis community given right to hunt (Sep. 19, 2003)
Sask. launches justice reform probe (Nov. 15, 2001)
Saskatchewan honours Louis Riel with highway (June 20, 2001)
Metis hunting case before Ontario's top court (Jan. 10, 2001)
Metis reject bill revoking Riel's conviction (May 20, 1998)
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Métis Resource Centre
Métis National Council
Métis Nation of Saskatchewan
Métis Nation of Ontario
Labrador Métis Nation
Total population of Canada: 31,414,000|
Total people of aboriginal origin: 1,319,890
North American Indian:
More than one aboriginal origin:
People of aboriginal origin living on reserve: 285,625
People of aboriginal origin living off reserve: 1,034,260
People of non-aboriginal origin living on reserve: 36,230
(Source: 2001 Census, Statistics Canada)
*includes people of a single aboriginal origin and those of a mix of one aboriginal origin with non-aboriginal origins