Métis people

mixed indigenous ethnic group of Canada and the US

The Métis (pronounced 'maey-TEE' in English and 'may-tis' in French), also known historically as Bois Brule, mixed-bloods, or Countryborn (Anglo-Métis), are one of the three divisions of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Their home land is part of Eastern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Western Ontario, as well as the Northwest Territories. The Métis Homeland also includes parts of the northern United States (specifically Montana, North Dakota, and northwest Minnesota).

Total population
1.041% of the Canadian population [1] regions=Canada, United States
English, French, Michif, Bungee (extinct)
Mostly Roman Catholic, Protestant [2]
Related ethnic groups
French, Cree, Ojibwa, Scots

The Métis Nation are descendants the marriages of mainly Cree and Ojibwe Indigenous peoples with French, Scottish or English settlers. Their history starts in the 18th century in the Western Canada. Historically, many western Métis spoke a mixed language called Michif. Michif is the Métis pronunciation of Métis. The Métis today mostly speak English, with French as a strong second language, as well as many native languages. The use of Michif is growing again thanks to the work of the provincial Métis councils.

The word métis is a French word derived from métisser, and is slightly related to the Spanish word mestizo.

Métis culture


Métis culture is a unique culture with similarities to First Nations, French Canadian, English, and Orkney/Scottish cultures. The Métis are known for their love of fiddle playing, but traditional instruments also included the concertina, the harmonica, and the hand drum. Their music has gone together with a kind of dancing called jigging. Traditionally, dancing included such moves as the Waltz Quadrille, the Square dance, Drops of Brandy, the Duck, La Double Gigue and the Red River Jig.

Métis people were famous for their horsemanship and breeding of horses[source?]. The RCMP Musical Ride horses dance the Quadrille as begun by the Métis and their horses.

As the Métis culture grew, a new language called Michif was spoken. This language combined mostly French nouns and mostly Cree verbs.

Ceinture fléchée

The clothing worn by Métis in the 19th century included the sash or ceinture flechée. It is traditionally about three metres in length and is made by weaving yarn together with one's fingers. The sash is worn around the waist, tied in the middle, with the fringed ends hanging. Vests with Métis beadwork are also popular. The Red River Coat came from the Metis culture.

The Métis were important in Canada's past, as fur traders who came from the east coast, voyageurs (coureur de bois), frontiersmen, pioneers, and interpreters between the First Nations peoples and the European colonists.

Prominent Métis


The most famous Métis was Louis Riel, who led two rebellions which John A. Macdonald hated, the Red River Rebellion in 1869 in the area now known as Manitoba, and the North-West Rebellion in 1885 in the area now known as Saskatchewan. Some say these were not really rebellions. For example, in 1869 Riel was the leader of a government recognized by Canada as controlling territory that did not belong to Canada; Canada worked on the Manitoba Act with this government. After these "rebellions", land claimers and other non-Métis took away the Métis' land by taking advantage of a government program for buying it, with the government letting this happen. The province of Alberta gave some land to Métis in 1938 to fix what it thought was not fair, but Saskatchewan and Manitoba have not done the same.

Two other famous Métis leaders were Cuthbert Grant and Gabriel Dumont.

Actor August Schellenberg is of Métis descent.

Born in 1940, in northern Saskatchewan, Metis writer and filmmaker Maria Campbell brought attention to the struggles of modern-day Metis and Aboriginal people with her book, Halfbreed (1973), and the play, Jessica (1982). She has shown the sound and song of traditional stories through her work in dialect, Stories of the Road Allowance People (1996).

On May 7, 2004, Métis Todd Ducharme became a judge of the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice.

Other well known Canadians of Métis descent are Sharon Bruneau, a Canadian female bodybuilder and fitness model, and Kevin O'Toole, 1996 North American Lightheavyweight bodybuilding champion.

British Columbia New Democratic Party Leader Carole James is of partly Métis ancestry.

NHL star defenceman Sheldon Souray is of Métis ancestry.

Architect Douglas Cardinal is of Métis and Blackfoot ancestry.

Novelist Sandra Birdsell is the daughter of a Métis man and a Russian Mennonite woman and wrote her award-winning novel Children of the Day partly on her parents' experience in Manitoba in the 1920s-50s.

  1. [1] Statistics Canada, Census 2001 - Selected Ethnic Origins1, for Canada, Provinces and Territories - 20% Sample Data
  2. [2] (Statistics Canada, Census 2001 - Selected Demographic and Cultural Characteristics (105), Selected Ethnic Groups (100), Age Groups (6), Sex (3) and Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) for Population, for Canada, Provinces, Territories and Census Metropolitan Areas 1, 2001 Census - 20% Sample Data)

Other websites


Métis Nation


Government of Canada