Métis

Who Are the Métis?

According to the Métis Nation of Ontario, "Métis" means a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of Historic Métis Nation ancestry, and is accepted by the Métis Nation.

Métis National Council November 2002


The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique history, culture, language and territory that includes the waterways of Ontario, surrounds the Great Lakes and spans what was known as the historic Northwest.

Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada (Métis Section)

Symbols and Tradition

The Métis National Flag

The Métis national flag predates the Canadian flag by 150 years. It symbolizes both the dawn and destiny of a new Indigenous group and symbolizes the arising from the coming together of two distinct cultures, European and First Nations. The unbroken circles arrayed upon the flag represent that the Métis people will endure forever.

(Métis Nation of Ontario)

This flag was first used by Métis resistance fighters prior to the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. It is the oldest Canadian patriotic flag indigenous to Canada. The Union Jack and the Royal Standard of New France bearing the “fleur-de-lis” are older, but these flags were first flown in Europe.

As a symbol of nationhood, the Métis flag is older than Canada's Maple Leaf flag by about 150 years. The flag bears a horizontal figure eight, or infinity symbol. The infinity symbol represents the coming together of two distinct and vibrant cultures, those of European and Indigenous North America, to produce a distinctly new culture, the Métis. The flag symbolizes the creation of a new society with roots in both First Nations and European cultures and traditions.

(Métis Nation British Columbia)

The Sash

The Sash

The sash is a symbol of Métis heritage for more than 300 years. It originated during the fur trade period and is based on First Nations finger weaving techniques and of European design and raw materials. The sash is shared by many cultures: Eastern Woodlands, French Canadian, Acadian and Métis.

(Métis Nation of Ontario)

Learn about the Métis Sash

Jenna McGuire discusses the history and techniques for making a Métis Sash.

Try your hand at finger weaving!

Finger weaving (french)

The Fiddle



The Fiddle

The fiddle is one of the most commonly used instruments among the Métis. It is most recognizable in traditional Métis jigging music.

Music played by the Métis is traditionally a blend of Celtic and French-Canadian folk music. Métis fiddling incorporates unique rhythms and harmonies of existing European music to create a distinct style of its own. The fiddle's bottom string is tuned up from G to A. The rhythm of extra beats creates a "bounce."

Most social gatherings had a common feature - the fiddle. Wedding, Christmas, New Years and other celebrations would involve hours of dancing to Métis fiddling. These celebrations and social gatherings brought strength to the Métis through difficult times of discrimination and mistreatment. The fiddle brought families and communities together through music, song, and dance. Today, these traditions continue.

(Métis Nation of Ontario)

Métis jigging and fiddle music is part of the Métis identity. This musical pastime is handed down through generations, and enjoyed today for fun, competition and sharing. Learn about the importance of music to the Métis as a social pastime and sharing of news. (Parks Canada)

(French version)

Learn more about Métis fiddle players in these biographies

proof_en_metis_fiddlers.pdf

Music of the Métis

Learn how music is an important part of Métis culture.

Learn how to play the spoons!

(french)

Listen to the first part of the book, the Fiddle Dancer

Métis Jigging

History of the Métis Jig Dance

Learn how to jig!

Historic Timeline

1-timeline_bilingual.pdf

Posters

Five posters from the Métis Nation of Ontario, each featuring a distinct aspect of Métis culture or history.

4-a-metis-history-posters-en.pdf

English Version

4-b-metis-history-posters-fr.pdf

French Version

Nine posters, from the Métis Nation of Ontario, with vivid photos and interesting traditional Métis knowledge.

5-a-lrc_posters_english_2.pdf

English Version

5-b-lrc_posters_french_5.pdf

French Version

Nine bilingual flashcards, from the Métis Nation of Ontario, depicting significant items within Métis culture.

7-flash-cards_bilingual.pdf

Books

The Giving Tree: A Retelling of a Traditional Métis Story” is a charming story that focuses on the boyhood reminisces of Moushoom as he describes finding the “Great Giving Tree” with this mother and father.

Steeped in Métis culture, this vibrantly-illustrated children’s book is a beautiful re-telling of a traditional story. It emphasizes Métis core values and beliefs including strength, kindness, courage, tolerance, honesty, respect, love, sharing, caring, balance, patience, but most importantly the connection with the Creator and Mother Earth. This book includes an accompanying narration CD in English and Michif.

The illustrations represent Métis culture, including: clothing, infinity symbol found on flag, sash, horse and cart, tea and bannock, offering of tobacco, Red River Cart, cache, cradle board, log cabin,

Also review the Métis Values: Red River Cart Wheel Teachings used in the Story at the back of the book.

The Diamond Willow Walking Stick : A Traditional Métis Story about Generosity

This book focuses on a Métis Elder’s remembrances of traditional teachings about generosity that were taught to him by his grandparents. These lifelong lessons imparted on him “how to live in a good Métis way,” and has taught him how to live with respect within the circle of life. In this charming children’s book, the third in an ongoing series on traditional Métis culture, author and illustrator Leah Marie Dorion takes the reader on another enchanting journey while once again honouring the special bond between Métis children and their grandparents. This book also includes a chart on the uses of the willow tree.

While listening, compile a list (mentally or written) of the different acts of generosity in the story. Stop from time to time while reading and discuss “acts of generosity.”

Acts of Generosity … Generosity Given Back …

Relatives With Roots: A Story About Métis Women's Connection to the Land

A Métis grandmother who takes her granddaughter out into the bush to teach her how to pick traditional medicines. As the granddaughter learns the traditional beliefs and stories about how the Métis people use the plants for food and medicine, she feels happy to be Métis with access to such wonderful cultural knowledge. This charming and vibrant book introduces young readers to key concepts in the traditional Métis worldview while focusing on the special relationship between a young Métis girl and her grandmother.

Discuss: How are we “dependent on everything else in creation”?

Connect: What are you thankful for in your life?

Proud to be Métis

13 key Métis individuals from the past and present day are highlighted in this book, celebrating identity and accomplishments.

David Bouchard, Dennis Weber, Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont, Jerry Potts, Sebastien Malette, Karole Dumont, Harry Daniels, Pierre Mercier, Pierre Falcon, Catherine McPherson, Cuthbert Grant, and Marie-Anne Gaboury.

The Arts

Watch Métis artist, Christi Belcourt, paint and colour one of her colouring pages by hand or on the computer: