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Arrival of Strangers - The Last 500 Years

The Métis

As the fur trade moved into the Western Great Lakes and Red River district in the early 1800s, the Métis developed a distinct identity, language and culture. By the 1870s, Métis lived throughout Canada, and in parts of the United States and Mexico. Métis people in different regions developed their own cultural features. Also called half-breeds, michif or bois-brulé, they contributed to North America's economic growth as fur trade entrepreneurs, hunters, trappers, guides, interpreters, cattlemen and artists.

Following the 1885 Resistance, many Métis people fled to Western Canada and the United States. Some denied their heritage to escape discrimination. Others carried on the Métis language, culture and traditions. Today, Métis people continue to contribute to all aspects of Canadian life. Since the mid-twentieth century, Métis have been working to revitalize their identity.

Flag (reproduction)
Canadian Museum of Civilization, LH996.65.17, D2002-013416, CD2002-346

Flag - LH996.65.17 - D2002-013416 - CD2002-346

Infinity flag
Made by House of Flags, Edmonton, Alberta
Nylon, rope and wood
Canadian Museum of Civilization, V-Z-193, S2002-5013, CD2004-0105

Flag - V-Z-193 - S2002-5013 - CD2004-0105

Métis Flags - The Métis flew their own flags as early as 1815. In 1869, the Métis formed a Provisional Government of Assiniboia< (also called Red River, Rupert's Land or Manitoba) to negotiate their rights with Ottawa. The negotiations were unsuccessful. A contemporary document describes the flag of the Provisional Government as "white with a yellow fleur de lys, a shamrock and a bison."

The flag that most Métis organizations throughout Canada and the United States fly today is the "infinity sign," which sits sideways on a blue or red background.

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