Who Are The Métis?
The Métis emerged as a distinct people/Nation in the historic Northwest during the course of the 18th & 19th centuries prior to Canada becoming a formal nation state. While the initial offspring of these unions were individuals who possessed mixed ancestry, the gradual establishment of distinct Métis communities, outside of First Nations and European cultures and settlements, as well as the subsequent inter-marriages between Métis women and Métis men, resulted in the genesis of a new Indigenous people – the Métis. The definition of Métis as adopted by Métis Nation-Saskatchewan is: “a person who self identifies as Métis, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, and is accepted by the Métis Nation.”
The Métis Nation grounds its assertion of Aboriginal nationhood on well-recognized international principles, including a shared history, common culture (song, dance, dress, national symbols, etc.), unique language (Michif, with various regional dialects), extensive kinship connections from Ontario westward, a distinct way of life, traditional territory, and a collective consciousness. The area known as the “historic Métis Nation Homeland” includes the 3 Prairie provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, Northwest Territories and the northern United States.
The Métis are recognized in the 1982 Canadian Constitution “Section 35 (1) the existing Treaty and aboriginal rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed;” (2) In this Act, the aboriginal peoples of Canada includes Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples.”