Books·Canadian

The North-West is Our Mother

The North-West is Our Mother is a nonfiction book by Jean Teillet.

Jean Teillet

Their story begins in the last decade of the 18th century in the Canadian North-West. Within 20 years the Métis proclaimed themselves a nation and won their first battle. Within 40 years they were famous throughout North America for their military skills, their nomadic life and their buffalo hunts.

The Métis Nation didn't just drift slowly into the Canadian consciousness in the early 1800s; it burst onto the scene fully formed. The Métis were flamboyant, defiant, loud and definitely not noble savages. They were nomads with a very different way of being in the world — always on the move, very much in the moment, passionate and fierce. They were romantics and visionaries with big dreams. They battled continuously — for recognition, for their lands and for their rights and freedoms. In 1870 and 1885, led by the iconic Louis Riel, they fought back when Canada took their lands. These acts of resistance became defining moments in Canadian history, with implications that reverberate to this day: Western alienation, Indigenous rights and the French/English divide.

After being defeated at the Battle of Batoche in 1885, the Métis lived in hiding for 20 years. But early in the 20th century, they determined to hide no more and began a long, successful fight back into the Canadian consciousness. The Métis people are now recognized in Canada as a distinct Indigenous nation. Written by the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, this popular and engaging history of "forgotten people" tells the story up to the present era of national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. (From HarperCollins Canada)

Jean Teillet is a lawyer and an expert on Métis rights.

Interviews with Jean Teillet

Every generation of Jean Teillet’s family has been involved in the struggle for Métis rights – including her great-granduncle, Louis Riel. Teillet is a renowned lawyer who has handled numerous Métis rights cases, including 12 cases before the Supreme Court of Canada. She talks about her new book, The North-West is Our Mother – a sweeping and gripping history of the Métis Nation from the 1790s to the present. 32:01
Author and Indigenous rights lawyer Jean Teillet on her epic history of the Metis nation, The North-West Is Our Mother, which is a finalist for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, at the Manitoba Book Awards. 24:53
Justice is not blind in Canada’s legal system, argues Métis lawyer Jean Teillet. She says it needs to view Indigenous people fully to render justice fairly. 53:59
In one narrative, Louis Riel was a traitor who was hanged for treason after mounting a rebellion against Canada. In another, he's a brave defender of the Métis people and founding father of Manitoba... which has led some to call for his posthumous exoneration. Piya speaks with Jean Teillet, great-great niece of Riel, about her pride in his legacy, why she thinks exoneration's not the answer... and what she makes of those in her own family who disagree with her. 10:51

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