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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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Métis Families









The Métis of the Canadian West were originated by hundreds of fur trade employees who liked the fur trade lifestyle and decided to stay on, taking Aboriginal women to wife. Many of former contract employees, or engagés, refused to renew their contracts; in the language of the day, they were called gens libres or freemen, a term they understood in the full sense of the word. After watching the French-Canadian fathers who had practiced the trade, the children of these freemen tended to be sharp dealers and traders, especially when having to do with the Hudson’s Bay Company. They knew the value of their work and expected to be treated accordingly; the Portage-la-Loche brigades were notorious for sit-down strikes, probably before the term had been invented in the industrialized world.

The life and times of some of the most significant Métis families of the day are illustrated in the following pages, .


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