The Métis began as a people of mixed European and First Nation ancestry, and through generations of defining themselves as a distinct group are now recognized as one of the three Aboriginal (Indigenous) peoples in Canada. The Métis Nation originated in Western Canada and radiating outwards from the original Red River Settlement driven mostly by North American fur trade.
In the early years of what is now known as Canada, the fur trade was an economic powerhouse for European interests. The furs were gathered by traders out on the land and then sold to companies to bring back to Europe to fed the growing demand for luxury furs. By the late 1600s, the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) dominated the fur trade. Many of the men who worked for the HBC looked to find wives in this new foreign land and this began the blending of the European fur traders with Indigenous First Nation women. This blending was the beginning of the Métis people. Although many fur traders returned home to Europe, many of the Métis settled at La Fourche (The Forks), on the banks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers, near the modern city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This strategic homeland gave them access to the waterways they needed to continue trading with First Nation and settler communities.
The Métis language, Michif, was birthed from a blending of the two heritages, which is typically considered French and Cree. However, the Métis were well known as speakers of many languages, since trading required adaptability for communication. In the past many Métis spoke up to five or six languages, including Michif, French, English, Cree, Ojibway and Bungee. Today, Michif is considered an endangered language and many organizations and communities are working hard to preserve Michif and the different dialects spoken by the Métis.
In 2002, working towards Métis Nation unity, the Métis National Council as the political organization that represents the Métis Nation, put forward the definition of “Métis” as: “a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal Peoples, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation.”
For information on Métis history, culture and language:
The Kelowna Métis Association
The Kelowna Métis Association (KMA) is a local representative of the Thompson Okanagan Region 3 of the Métis Nation of British Columbia. We are one of the 38 Chartered Communities of the Métis Nation British Columbia. As of 2020, we are proud to have over 800 members.
The purpose of the KMA is to identify the needs of Métis citizens of British Columbia and to protect, promote and enhance the status of the Métis citizens in the province of British Columbia.
The KMA will:
- Promote and foster community development.
- Develop prosperity and economic self-sufficiency within the community.
- Provide care and support necessary to meet the fundamental needs of the citizens of the Métis Community.
- Establish effective means of communications for the Métis Community.
- Encourage academic and skills development and to enable citizens of the Métis Community to attain their educational aspirations.
- Promote the history, values, culture, languages and traditions of the Métis Community.
- Create an awareness of our proud heritage.
- Promote Métis artistic and cultural achievement.
- Ensure that Métis can exercise their Aboriginal and Treaty rights and freedoms and in so doing, act in a spirit of cooperation with other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
- Establish good relations with all Aboriginal peoples for the pursuit of our common interests and goals to gain the recognition and respect of the Métis as a Community and a people.
The activities of the KMA shall be carried on without purpose of gain for its members and any profits or other acquisitions to the KMA shall be used in the promoting its purpose of this not be altered.
Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC)
Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) represents nearly 90,000 self-identified Métis people in BC. As of 2020, 20,000 Métis Citizens are provincially registered with MNBC. The Métis National Council and the Provincial Government of British Columbia, as well as the Federal Government of Canada, recognize Métis Nation British Columbia as the Governing Nation for Métis in BC.
In 2003 the constitution of the MNBC was established, implementing a right to self-governance and a legislative structure to include levels of governance and an objectively verifiable citizenship process. MNBC represents thirty-nine (39) Métis Chartered Communities in British Columbia, and its mandate is to develop and enhance opportunities for Métis communities by implementing culturally relevant social and economic programs and services.
For more information: https://www.mnbc.ca
Additional Resources and Partnerships
The Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC
The Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC (MCCFBC) is identified within provincial legislation as being the designated representative for Métis children, youth, and families within the child welfare system throughout British Columbia.
This means that the MCCFBC sees every Métis child in the BC child welfare system through the court order process, ensuring that the child receives the support and services they need in a culturally safe and relevant manner.
For more information: https://www.metiscommission.com
Métis Community Services Society of BC
Métis Community Services Society of BC has a mandate from the Métis citizens to provide integrated, holistic, family-centred, wraparound services to all those who need assistance, with special emphasis on Aboriginal populations, specifically Métis populations.
Okanagan Métis & Aboriginal Housing Society
The Okanagan Métis & Aboriginal Housing Society is a non-profit society incorporated in August of 1986. The Society’s mandate is to develop and maintain affordable and comfortable rental housing units, integrated within the urban communities of the Okanagan. The major objective is to make affordable rental housing available for all households (native and non-native people) of low and moderate income.For more information: http://omahs.ca/home.html