Prior to Canada’s
crystallization as a nation, a new Aboriginal people emerged out of the
relations of Indian women and European men. While the initial offspring
of these Indian and European unions were individuals who simply
possessed mixed ancestry, subsequent intermarriages between these mixed
ancestry children resulted in the genesis of a new Aboriginal people
with a distinct identity, culture and consciousness in west central
North America – the Métis Nation.
The Métis are recognized by the government
as one of the recognised Aboriginal peoples in Canada. They developed as
the mixed-race descendants of unions between, generally, First Nations
women and European men, but over time there were more intermarriages
within the group. The term historically described all mixed-race people
of First Nations and European ancestry. Within generations in the 19th
century, particularly in central and western Canada, a distinct Métis
culture developed. Since the late 20th century, the Metis people have
been recognized as an Aboriginal people, with formal recognition equal
to that given to the Inuit and First Nations peoples.
The early mothers were usually Mi'kmaq, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Cree,
Ojibwe, Menominee, or Maliseet, or of mixed descent from these peoples
and Europeans. After New France was ceded to Great Britain's control, at
one time there was an important distinction between French Métis born of
francophone voyageur fathers, and the Anglo-Métis (known as "countryborn")
descended from English or Scottish fathers. Today these two cultures
have essentially coalesced into one Métis tradition. Such mixed-race
people were referred to by other terms, many of which are now considered
to be offensive, such as Mixed-bloods, Half-breeds, Bois-Brűlés, Bungi,
Black Scots, and Jackatars.
The Métis homeland includes regions scattered across Canada, as well as
parts of the northern United States (specifically northwest Minnesota,
North Dakota, and Montana). These were areas in which there was
considerable intermarriage due to the 19th-century fur trade.
Del Majore, MSW with the Indigenous Health
Program, discusses Métis history, culture and the impacts of
colonization on Métis communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 2011, 451,795 people in Canada identified as Métis.
They represented 32.3% of the total Aboriginal population and 1.4% of
the total Canadian population. Most Métis people today are not the
direct result of intermarriage between First Nations and Europeans. The
vast majority of those who identify as Métis are the descendants of
unions between generations of Métis individuals.
Over the past century, countless Métis have assimilated into the general
European Canadian populations, making Métis heritage (and thereby
aboriginal ancestry) more common than is generally realized. Geneticists
estimate that 50 percent of today's population in Western Canada have
some Aboriginal blood. They could be classified as Métis by any
genetic measure but most are not part of its ethnic culture. There is
substantial controversy over who qualifies as Métis.
Unlike among First Nations peoples, there is no distinction between
"status" and "non-status" Métis. The legal definition is not yet fully
Understanding the Métis Nation in BC by Bruce
Have you ever wondered what the difference in language, culture,
heritage, and citizenship is between Métis people and First Nations in
Canada? Did you know that since 2006, the Métis Nation in British
Columbia has had a Métis Nation Relationship Accord with the Province of
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