Metis Anthem- by diauzit
- Metis were responsible for much of Canada's expansion to the West.
- They go back as early as the 1600s and have their roots in Eastern Canada.
- They originated from European fisherman and their native wives.
- The name, Metis, meaning mixed, was first established in the Red River Region in present day Manitoba.
- When the fur trade moved to the West of Canada in the 1700s, many French-Canadians found Inuit, Cree, Ojibwa, and Saulteaux native wives and the Metis population expanded
- These native groups hoped to establish strong relationships with their European allies so wives were often offered in trading.
- Most of the fur traders that married them were Catholic, so Metis children were exposed to both Native and Catholic belief systems. Their offspring formed the 'Western Metis Nation'.
- Today there are around 400,000 Metis in Canada.
- The Metis had a unique way of life that tied in both native culture and French-Canadian culture.
- Metis women made great wives for the fur traders as the provided:
- survival in Canada's harsh climate conditions
- aided in translation for trading
- had amazing sewing skills that they used for making clothing and other trading goods
- were very talented cooks
- were resolvers of cultural problems that came about
Metis Settlement Areas
- Most Metis were not located in one area.
- They spread out along Canadian fur trade routes. This was because of their close ties to it.
- The first Metis settlement was established in the Red River area of Manitoba.
- Other geographical locations included:
- the Ontario Great Lakes area
- British Columbia along the Mackenzie River
- Northwest Territories
The Metis Flag
- Traditionally, there were two flags with the same infinite design, one being red and one blue
- The red one represented the HBC
- The blue one represented the Northwest Company
- The infinite sign represented the joining of two distinct cultures, and the immortality of the Metis nation
The Metis in The Fur Trade
- Metis made the fur trade very successful
- They were raised to appreciate European and native cultures, which helped keep them open minded and flexible when dealing with diverse traders
- They were very skilled at hunting for buffalo, which was a major trade item
- The Hudson's Bay Company, which was implemented by the British was against fur traders marrying native women, where as the Northwest Company, which was the French fur trading company, supported such marriages. Fortunately, the Northwest Company produced such superb goods, that the Hudson's Bay Company eventually had to accept trade with them regardless of its discriminative beliefs
- As the Metis were such skilled hunters, traders, translators, and voyageurs, they soon became valuable employees to both the Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company
The Merging of Hudson's Bay Company and Northwest Company
- Rupert's Land was a very large piece of land in Canada and was owned by the HBC. It was made up of various watersheds that drained into Hudson's Bay.
- This gave HBC much power in terms of trade in the area.
- King Charles The Second of England gave this land to HBC.
- In 1812 many immigrants moved into Red River Valley of Manitoba.
- HBC, which owned this land, assigned plots of land for living to many immigrants. These immigrants were called Selkirk Settlers
- This caused a great conflict, because amongst others living in the area, the land was inhabited by many Metis. Additionally, it caused conflict for trading as trade routes were cut.
- The Northwest Company, which the Metis were intimately connected too, was very upset about this.
- There was a long struggle over the land.
- 1820 marked the merging of the HBC and Northwest Company. The Northwest Company had little choice in the matter since their trading route had been so drastically cut. Merging would be the only way they could still conduct business.
- After the merge of the two trading companies, Canada had almost entirely become HBC land
- The Metis lost a great deal through this merge as HBC rules, regulations, and influence were much stronger that that of Northwest Company. From then on, HBC controlled the price of furs.
- Most trade forts were abandoned and many Metis lost their jobs
Michif: Metis Language
- The Metis spoke a language called Michif, which was a mix of French and Native words and grammar
- When French-Canadian men first married native women, most were not fluent in each other’s language, and so, children grew up with both languages in their everyday lives
- In addition to French, Cree was the common spoken native language in the home
- The first generation Metis children were the first Metis to start mixing French and Cree
- Michif was first developed in the 1700s in Ontario and Manitoba
- While there were some variations of the language, Michif commonly included:
- French nouns
- Cree verbs
- French masculine and feminine rules
- Cree living and non-living rules
Louis Riel Institute: Michif Language Examples ''Oh where oh where has my little dog gone (song)''
Most information on Metis courtesy of Canada's First Peoples