The Metis are descendants of the offspring of Indigenous women and European men from the mid-19th century. Since then, they have developed a language and culture quite different than other Indigenous Peoples so Metis who lived in Ontario felt the time was right to speak with their own voice on the national stage.
“Our citizens were part of other Pan-Indigenous organizations but none that focused on Metis, and advancing Metis rights, and recognition agenda. So in 1993, when the Metis in Ontario came together and formed the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO), it was a very intentional decision,” says MNO president Margaret Froh.
There are Metis communities across the province, including Peterborough, where a strong effort is made to educate non-Metis on their history and culture.
‘We are connected with the school boards, both the Catholic school board and the public school board, Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming to bring the awareness of Metis culture into the school boards,” says Andrew Dufrane of the Peterborough and District Wapiti Metis Council.
There is also a historical link to the history of the Metis people to Peterborough. A concertina owned by the 19th-century Metis leader Louis Riel and stolen by a Peterborough soldier during the Northwest Rebellion in Manitoba is in the collection of the Peterborough Museum Archives.
“The person who owned it at the time … had it on exhibition in Banff where he was living, and at that time, it was damaged by people looking at it and handling it. Some of the keys were stolen, so he was worried and had it shipped back to Peterborough to his family here, who donated it to the museum,” says Susan Neale of the Peterborough Museum and Archives.
The Metis Nation of Ontario Annual General Assembly wraps up on Sunday.