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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways

FiddleIn the realm of Métis artistic activity, there exists a strong tradition of performing. From storytelling to music and acting, some of the most talented performers in Canada are working from a Métis background.

The Métis have always had a strong tradition of sharing music with each other. The fiddle played a central role in the culture and has a very long history. Those who wanted their own instrument often found that they were too expensive to buy, not to mention rare, and many turned to building their own from maple wood.

There are many Métis who carry on the tradition of fiddle playing, and one among them is performer, Ted Longbottom who has released several CDs. His first CD was self-titled, and his second was titled River Road. In addition, he has produced an educational and entertaining program for schools called Buffalo Tales. Longbottom is working to bring Métis traditional stories and music to others so they can learn more about them.

Another well-known Métis fiddler, John Arcand has carried on the musical tradition with his prolific song-writing career. In the spring of 2004, he received the Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for his lifetime achievement and was named the "Master of the Métis Fiddle."

Many other Métis fiddlers perform at festivals and fairs across Canada, it seems the traditional form of fiddling is growing in popularity. Among those who have produced CDs of Métis music includes Ryan Keplin, Aaron Peters, Hap Boyer, Reg Bouvette, Ray St. Germain, Nichol Ross, Ed D. Desjarlais, Andy Desjarlis, Corny Michel, Mel Bedard, Clint Dutiaume, Sierra Noble, Gerry Lepine, and D. J. Lacquette.

Although the traditional form of Métis music is fiddle music there are many who are expressing their musical talent in other ways.

Métis singer Priscilla Morin is from Lac La Biche, Alberta. She is currently developing a country music career.

Andrea Menard is a Métis actor and singer who performs jazz and blues works. She has performed for His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex, and His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.

With so much activity by Métis performers, their long history of performance is evolving, yet also preserving the old ways.

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