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From scrip to road allowances: Canada's complicated history with the Métis

It's a phrase you've probably heard before: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. But how much do you really know about the Métis? 
Little-known history of the Métis drastically shaped who modern Métis are and how they're perceived today. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Originally published on April 28, 2019.

It's a phrase you've probably heard before: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. But how much do you really know about the Métis? 

Historically, the Métis didn't fit in society, at times they were also rejected by their First Nation families. Theirs is a history of rebellion, resistance, and forced assimilation.  

This week we take a look at the history of the Métis — and how colonization has shaped the challenges they face today.

Métis history, while often overlooked and seldom taught in school, is proof of a distinct culture. Researcher Brenda Macdougall's work centres on defining what being Métis means — something she said is often misunderstood.

Save for a few settlements, Métis people have very little land to call their own. This was a result of Métis scrip, a process that stripped Métis people of most of their land — something Métis lawyer Jason Madden calls "Canada's best-kept secret."

As a result of scrip, many Métis were landless. They had to improvise, and soon Métis people were building small, tight-knit communities along the sides roads and railway lines. Métis scholar Jesse Thistle talks about road allowances, and how they were communities of resilience and resistance.

Due to colonization, many Métis people lost their connection to spirituality and ceremony. Chantal Fiola talks about the connection between Métis spirituality and Catholicism and explains how many are finding their way back to tradition.

This week's playlist: 
(Jen Squires )

Christa Couture — Alone in This
Ray St. Germain — I'm Mighty Proud I'm Métis
Amanda Rheaume — Passed Down the Line

 

 

 

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