Le Métis - May 09, 2024

May 9, 2024

Defending our culture: the MMF takes a stand against identity theft

"We must seek to preserve the existence of our own people. We must not by our own act allow ourselves to be swamped. If the day comes when that is done, it must be by no act of ours." - Louis Riel

The Red River Métis are at a turning point. Across Eastern Canada, Métis identity is being misappropriated and stolen from us. What is happening right now is Métis identity theft at an unprecedented level.

People in eastern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes are attempting to use the Manitoba Métis Federation's (MMF) recent legal and political successes to assert their rights and receive benefits. Many of these people may have legitimate claims to being Indigenous, but simply put - they are not us and we are not them. It took the Red River Métis decades in the courts and nearly 150 years of struggle to get this recognition.

"We are the only ones that have the Red River Jig. We're the only ones that have the Red River Cart. We're the only ones that are flower beadwork people. We're the only ones that speak Michif. We're the only ones that have our culture, and we will let no one try to steal your culture." - MMF President David Chartrand


Who are the Red River Métis?

We are a vibrant Indigenous collectivity with our own identity, language, culture, institutions, and way of life throughout the historic Northwest, also called the Red River Métis Homeland, centred in the Red River Valley. Despite our many names such as Bois Brûlés; flower beadwork people; Otipemisiwak; Louis Riel's people; and, as we call ourselves in our own language - Michif - from the beginning we have always been the Red River Métis.

Where is the Red River Métis Homeland?

Our Homeland is West Central North America, which is the historic Northwest and part of Rupert's Land, brought into Confederation under the leadership of Louis Riel and others. Our People have a strong, distinct identity and share a common history in the great western plains centred in the Red River Valley that is entirely our own.

What is Red River Métis Culture?

Michif language:

Our language is called Michif, spoken only in our western prairie homes. Michif is the root of Red River Métis culture and serves as a connection to land, traditional knowledge, and stories. Michif is a term that encompasses three traditional and uniquely Métis languages: Michif French, Northern Michif, and Southern Michif. Today, fewer than 1,000 people can fluently speak Michif.


Known as the flower beadwork people, the Red River Métis drew inspiration from combining First Nations beadwork with the floral embroidered patterns introduced by French-Canadian nuns working in the Roman Catholic mission schools. Techniques and patterns of floral silk embroidery traditions from France were incorporated into traditional Aboriginal porcupine quill work designs, which progressively began to reflect our distinctive style.

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