The Métis emerged as a distinct Indigenous people and nation in the historic Northwest during the late 18th century. The historic Métis Nation Homeland encompasses the Prairie Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and extends into contiguous parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the northern United States. In 1870 the Métis Provisional Government of Louis Riel negotiated the entry of the Red River Settlement into Confederation as the Province of Manitoba. The Métis Nation is represented at the national and international levels by the Métis National Council which receives its mandate and direction from its Governing Members, the democratically elected governments of the Métis Nation within Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia.
The Métis Nation
The advent of the fur trade in the historic Northwest during the 18th century was accompanied by a growing number of mixed offspring of Indian women and European fur traders. As this population established distinct communities separate from those of Indians and Europeans and married among themselves, a new Indigenous people emerged – the Métis people – with their own unique culture, traditions, language (Michif), way of life, collective consciousness, and nationhood.
Distinct Métis communities developed along the routes of the fur trade and across the Northwest within the Métis Nation Homeland. This Homeland includes the Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), as well as parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, and the northern United States.
Today, many of these historic Métis communities continue to exist along rivers and lakes where forts and posts were hubs for fur trade activity. Many Métis Nation citizens live in urban centres within the Métis Nation Homeland.
Consistently throughout history, the Métis people have acted collectively to protect and fight for their rights, lands and ongoing existence as a distinct Indigenous people and nation within the Canadian federation – from the Métis provisional governments of Riel in Manitoba (1869-70) and Saskatchewan (1885) to contemporary Métis governments. This dedication continues to exist as citizens and communities throughout the Métis Nation Homeland keep the nation’s distinct culture, traditions, language, and lifestyle alive and pursue their own political, social and economic development.