History & Culture
The Métis evolved in the historic 18th and 19th centuries. They were born of a mixture of French and Scottish fur traders with Cree, Ojibwa, Saulteaux and Assiniboine women, but developed as people distinct from either Indian or European. They developed a distinct language, a unique economy, a diverse lifestyle, and enduring philosophies.
In 1869 the political economy of the Métis was destroyed. The Manitoba Act (1870) and the Dominion Lands Act (1879) recognized Métis claims to Aboriginal title, but the federal government moved to unilaterally extinguish these claims through individual land and grants scrip. The Métis became Canada’s “forgotten people” because they were denied the recognition of their collective rights, even though it is estimated there are between 300,000 and 800,000 Métis people throughout Canada, and the Métis account for more than 20% of the Aboriginal population.
The Métis have never received the benefits governments grant to Status Indians and Inuit. In its final report the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples states “it is unjust and unreasonable to withhold from Métis people the services and opportunities available to other Aboriginal Peoples”. The Métis were finally recognized as one of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Constitution of 1982.