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Alberta's Francophone Heritage
Background, People, Culture, Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource and Alberta Lottery Fund


Francophone Edukit

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The Métis

The Country Wives

Métis Families


Metis hunters with Red River carts returning to camp on Red River, 1859.The rush to harness an expansive land mass and its resources was a dangerous occupation that promised great rewards. You had to be tough to survive during the fur trade, and traders and explorers would soon know that storms can rip out of a cloudless sky in an hour, and harsh winters on new trails were as deadly as any hostile Aboriginal band. But the fur trade was made even more dangerous in that your competition—rival companies or individual traders—just might try to kill you. Welcome to Canada.

As tough as traders were, it was a necessity to have someone to guide you, to set up camp, to wash clothes, to prepare food, and to watch your back, so it became common for European explorers and fur traders to take an aboriginal wife—a "country wife." This union produced a new race—the Métis—that are as salient in the history of Alberta as anywhere in Canada, and whose fading culture struggles to endure today.

This section outlines the Métis, covering their genesis, their practices and traditions, their role in the society of the past and the present, and the prominent Métis who influenced Alberta’s course. Take a step towards renewing this culture by reading on.


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