It’s time for another week of learning for Indigenous History Month. This week we will be dedicating our time to learning about the unique culture and history of the Métis peoples.
A Brief History:
Métis nation began in the 1600’s with the beginning of the fur trade and the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). European men working for HBC began to establish families with First Nations women and the children born in these families did not identify as either First Nations or European. Instead, they identified as Métis. A distinct group with their own culture, worldviews, and language.
Throughout our shared history, Métis communities have been deeply impacted by the policies meant to control Indigenous peoples and land claims. An early example of the impact of such policies would be the implementation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This proclamation led HBC to begin offering land grants to new settlers, displacing established Métis communities. Acts of displacement would be an on-going occurrence for the Metis, as in 1869 the Dominion of Canada would purchase Rupert’s Land from HBC without any consultation with Indigenous peoples living in the territory. In response, the Métis National Committee was formed as a provisional government to negotiate with Canada. However, even after making provisional negotiations, Métis culture and lands continued to be encroached upon by the arrival of new settlers.
Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont are the most well-known leaders of the Métis. They are revered by Métis Nation for the way they continued to press on Canada to negotiate a better relationship with their people and to honour agreements made. Louis Riel’s pressing for recognition by Canada would lead to the Northwest Resistance in 1885, an uprising that would leave many Métis dead. In an unfair trial after the event, Louis Riel was found guilty of treason. As a warning to others wanting to challenge Canada’s expansion plans, Riel was hung on November 16, 1885.
There is more to this story, as the struggles between the Métis and Canada continue through the 1900s into present day. Please access the links below to learn more.
Read: Métis Historic Timeline
Often referred to as the “Flower Beadwork People, the Métis have a rich culture that is rooted in the land that translates both into their artwork and their ways of being. Take a moment to learn more about Métis stories, artwork, and more!
Read: Symbols of Métis Culture
Things You Should Know:
1. Michif is the language of Métis peoples.
The language of the Métis people was formed through a unique mix of European and First Nation languages, mainly French and Cree. Michif is considered an endangered language as it is estimated that there are less than 1,000 fluent speakers today.
2. The Métis invented the Red River cart.
Made entirely out of wood (including all hardware), the Métis Red River cart could pull the same amount of weight with one horse as the standard carts could pull with four. These carts were as unique as strong, when crossing water the wheels could be removed to turn the cart into a raft – allowing cargo to easily cross the water. These noisy carts moved thousands of pounds across the prairies and have become a symbol of Métis identity.
3. The Métis Nation’s flag is the oldest used flag in Canada.
The blue Métis flag has been carried with pride since the Métis asserted themselves as a distinct nation. With the infinity symbol representing the immortality of the nation and the joining two cultures, the flag continues to be a symbol of Métis identity.
Additional Learning Resources:
June 1st to June 30th: Share your learning raffle!
Throughout the month of June all members of our CityU community are invited to participate in the Share Your Learning raffle. Share something that you learn or experience during Indigenous Peoples History Month and/or National Indigenous Peoples Day to be entered to win one of multiple prizes! Use this link to enter the raffle on Google Forms.
June 14th from 12pm to 2pm PDT: Celebration at the CityU Vancouver Campus (In-Person)
There are new Indigenous art pieces being displayed in June at the Vancouver campus! Join us in a celebration of Indigenous cultures, to learn more about the artwork, and to participate in some art of your own. This is an afternoon for cultural activities and learning. All the CityU community is welcome!
June 19th at 12pm to 1pm PDT: Community Book Reading Braiding Sweetgrass (Virtual)
Gather with Indigenous Campus Advocate Jalissa Schmidt to share reflections and conversations about Robin Will Kimmerer’s teachings of Indigenous knowledge, relationships, and plants in her book Braiding Sweetgrass.
This discussion will focus on the introduction and the first half of the section “Planting Sweetgrass”. The book is available through our CityU library, but you don’t have to read the book to attend! All are invited to join the discussion. And, if we want to continue reading this love letter to Mother Earth together, more gatherings will be scheduled!
Zoom Link: https://cityu-edu.zoom.us/j/82520790128