Métis Week 2023
By Jessica Buffalo, Indigenous Initiatives Counsel
Métis Week is a significant annual event celebrated across Canada from Nov. 13–18. It is a time to commemorate the rich and vibrant heritage and valuable contributions made by the Métis people, one of Canada’s three Indigenous groups.
Métis Week is important because it provides a platform to educate others about the unique culture, history and traditions of the Métis people. One of the most prominent days during this week is Thursday, Nov. 16, which is celebrated as Louis Riel Day. Louis Riel was a influential Métis leader and iconic figure in history. Today, Louis Riel is widely regarded as the Father of Manitoba.
This year is particularly special for the Métis in Alberta because it is the first year celebrating the swearing-in of the first Otipemisiwak Métis Government. Otipemisiwak is a Cree word that translates as “the people who own themselves”.
Métis Week is also an opportunity for all Canadians to learn about the history of the Métis people, reflect on the challenges faced by the Métis community and understand ongoing efforts to ensure Métis rights and culture are upheld and honoured.
Below are some suggestions on how to participate during Métis Week:
- Cultural workshops: Various workshops are organized over the course of the week to promote and teach traditional Métis arts and crafts, such as beading and finger weaving. These activities provide an opportunity for both Métis and non-Métis individuals to learn about and engage with Métis culture.
- Métis music and dance: Music and dance are essential aspects of Métis culture. Métis fiddling and Red River jigging are showcased during the week’s celebrations. Performances and workshops allow attendees to immerse themselves in these vibrant and energetic art forms.
- Educational seminars: Métis Week often features seminars and talks on Métis history, contemporary issues and cultural preservation. These events are open to the public and provide a platform for meaningful discussions and education.
- Food and feast: Like many cultures, food plays a significant role in Métis traditions. Throughout the week, traditional Métis dishes are shared, offering a taste of their unique cuisine, which includes dishes like bannock, wild game and Métis stew.
Other resources to check out:
- Stories of the Road Allowance People, Maria Campbell: This work sheds light on the struggles and resilience of the Métis people, often referred to as “Road Allowance People”. These were Métis who lived on the fringes of society, facing challenges but preserving their culture and identity.
- From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle: His memoir provides a personal account of his journey from homelessness and addiction to becoming an award-winning academic and a strong advocate for Métis and Indigenous rights.
- Scrip: The Scrip system was a method used by the Canadian government to allocate land to Métis individuals, which often resulted in disputes and injustices.
- Pape Salter Teillet LLP has provided a detailed summary on the Daniels v. Canada, 2016 SCC 12, decision as well as other notable decisions that have impacted Métis people.
Events across the province:
- Métis Week 2023 – Métis Nation of Alberta
- Annual Métis Week celebrations | Alberta.ca
- Métis Week – Rupertsland Institute
- Recognizing Métis Week | City of Edmonton
As we observe Métis Week in 2023, let us remember the legacy of Louis Riel and the Métis people, celebrate their cultural richness and continue to work towards a more inclusive and just Canada that recognizes and respects the contributions of all its Indigenous peoples.