A Modern Metis Identity: Who
Gets To Choose?
Case Study
Dee Dee – Her immediate and
ancestral family are all Metis people. Her
mother and father were fluent Michif
speakers. Her Father was a whiskeydrinking, fiddle playing, jigging person.
Grandmother was a road allowance person.
Both mother and father were poor. Mothers
family ravaged from tuberculosis epidemic.
Mother was a founding member of a
provincial Metis association in the 60’s. Dee
does not have a Metis card with any Metis
political organization.
Case Study
Angie – her father is Metis and her Mother is
French. Both of her Grandparents were Metis from
Cree and Chippewa cultural backgrounds. She was
raised in a small Metis community where her family
lived off the land – her father and brothers hunted,
fished and her mother and sisters picked berries.
Her grandfather and uncles played fiddle and many
of her siblings were jiggers. Half of her uncles
identified as Metis and had cards from the
Manitoba Metis Federation. The other half denied
their Aboriginal ancestry and refused to have cards.
She has a Manitoba Metis Federation card and is
very active in the political and cultural
A Modern Metis Identity: Who Gets To Choose
 An overview of Metis identity
 Cultural Identity
 Political Affiliation
 A Review of Available Resources and Eligibility Criteria
 University of Manitoba Access Bursary Spaces
 Inspire Bursary and Scholarship Application
 Manitoba Metis Federation Endowment Fund & Louis Riel Bursary, PostSecondary Financial Support
 Special Consideration Categories in Professional Schools
 Critical Factors In Selection
 How do we select those Metis students in most need?
Indigenous Identity
Complications – Impact upon the Métis
 Indigenous peoples are very diverse. For First Nations(FN) alone there are 615
FN communities representing more than 50 nations or cultural groups and 50
Aboriginal languages – the Métis are also a diverse peoples but they are
recognized differently
 Indian Act placed all of this diversity within one category labelled “Indians”
wherein some Indigenous Peoples were recognized and others were not.
 Revision– 1982 – Canadian Constitution – Section 35(1) states Aboriginal
means, Indian, Inuit and Métis and Section 35 affirms ‘existing’ Aboriginal and
Treaty rights
Indigenous Identity
Complications – Impact upon the Métis
 All Indigenous peoples have suffered the intergenerational trauma of colonialism
 These impacts are exposed in contemporary gaps of educational attainment
 FNs with status – identity was codified by the state and their link to territory,
rights and identity were recognized by the state.
 For the Métis historically, their identity was not recognized in the same way and
until 1982, the Metis were denied acknowledgement as Indigenous peoples,
making legitimating of identity difficult.
Métis Indigeneity
 Métis self identify from differing perspectives; mixed race people; ethnic/cultural;
citizenship in a ‘nation’.
 Métis National Council (MNC), a Métis citizen is distinct from other Aboriginal
peoples, self declares, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted
by the Métis nation.
 Métis cultural identity is based upon kinship, genealogy and community – they
believe identity is tied to one’s connection to home, definable by land and family
National Demographics of Aboriginal Population
 According to the 2011 National Household Survey, the Aboriginal population
make up 4.3% of the Canadian population. Of this, 451,795 are Métis.
 Nationally, the Métis are the fastest growing Aboriginal group in Canada.
Their population has increased by 91% since 1996, which is more than
three times faster than First Nations and Inuit.
 There are 46,325 Métis living in Winnipeg, accounting for 6.5 per cent of the
city's population.
 South Central Metis Local – these numbers will increase significantly
 134 Locals within the 7 Regional Offices in Manitoba
Metis Population in Canada
Educational Attainment for Metis Learners
In 2011, 73.6% of Métis people (25-64) had at least a high school diploma (Statistics Canada,
National Household Survey, 2011)
54.8% of Métis people (25 – 64) had some postsecondary qualifications compared to 64.7% of
non-Indigenous individuals;
16.3% a trades certificate;
23.2% a college diploma;
3.5% a university certificate or diploma below the bachelor level and;
11.7% a university degree. These are the highest proportions among the three Aboriginal groups.
 Local Advisory Committee – MMF – we determine who is chosen for education and training dollars within the
Winnipeg Region. We strongly advocate that there be an increase in funding for university professional
programs to assist our students with gaining employment beyond entry level – moves them out of living in
Access & Aboriginal Focus Programs – Bursary
The Access and Aboriginal Focus Programs are designed to provide academic, personal/social and
some financial support to those students who otherwise would not have the means to engage in postsecondary education. The target groups are 1) Indigenous peoples; 2) residents of Northern Manitoba
and; 3) low-income earners. Currently, 80% of our student population is Indigenous.
Students who qualify for Canada or Manitoba student loans are also eligible to apply for an Access
Bursary. This bursary is designed to provide some financial support in that students will then receive 60%
student loan and 40% bursary which is non-repayable. This reduces their debt by almost half upon
completion of their respective degree programs.
Currently, we have a total of 56 bursary spaces available within AAFP. There are 19 of these bursaries
being accessed by Metis students. Of the remaining Metis students in the program, 11 did not apply for
student loan and 4 were not eligible because of a high parental contribution
Selection Criteria is based strictly on financial need.
Inspire – National Aboriginal Scholarship and Bursary
Indspire, formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Program is a charitable organization and
is the largest funder of Indigenous education aside from the Federal Government (Indspire website,
Indspire has disbursed almost $65 million through close to 20,000 bursaries and scholarships to
Indigenous students.
Selection Criteria – because of the large number of applicants, the selection criteria is weighted
between community contribution, academic achievement/motivation to succeed and financial need. The
four key questions are; 1) How does the student connect to his/her Indigenous community; 2) How
does s/he contribute to the Indigenous community. – locally, nationally and internationally; 3)
How has s/he prepared for their academic program; 4) What is the financial need of the
applicant? All four categories are weighted similarly so all are considered when providing financial
Jury Member - Metis applicants – much more discussion in the first two categories
Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) Endowment Fund
The MMF Endowment Fund - established through partnerships with four Manitoba universities and Red
River Community College. The post-secondary institutions match the amount contributed by the MMF.
From its inception in 1999, there is currently over $12 million to provide support to Metis post-secondary
2,706 students have applied for bursaries and scholarships, resulting in 1,425 students receiving awards
totaling $2,077,009 (MMF, Metis Employment & Training)
Louis Riel Bursary Fund – is dispersed from the Manitoba Metis Federation Endowment Fund and is
offered to students at the four Manitoba universities and Red River Community College. In 2014, there
were 107 LRI bursaries of $1500.00 offered to Metis students from the U of M (Louis Riel Institute, 2015)
President of MMF is concerned about under-utilization of these funds – reviewing selection criteria and marketing.
Metis Employment and Training receive funding through Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training
Strategy, Canada offer financial support to students in their final year of a post-secondary degree
program. For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, there is approximately $475,000 allocated for students from all
four Manitoba universities (Local Advisory Committee, MMF – 2015)
Students from low-income families are required to apply for student loan for the first 3 – 5 years of their programs
Special Consideration Spaces in Professional
 Faculty of Dentistry – 2 spaces allocated for Indigenous students. Currently,
both have been filled.
 Faculty of Medicine –all Indigenous applicants who apply will be considered for
admission. In 2014, there were 8 students admitted in this category. (Total
admitted – 110)
 Faculty of Education – early and middle years stream – 10 spaces; senior years
has 21 spaces (Total 280 admitted - 70 per stream)
 Faculty of Nursing – 20 spaces designated for Indigenous students. Total
applicants – 240 (8% of total intake)
Critical Factors For Consideration in Selection
 Do we base selection on proof of citizenship alone?
 This is primarily how selection into our professional schools and allocation
of resources is determined;
 Selecting students based purely on political affiliation may discount those
students who can’t afford a geneology, are from a different province that
doesn’t have a strong Metis political organization or who just are opposed to
aligning with a Metis political organization.
Connection to Community
 Do we take into consideration community and service to
 Similar to Inspire, do we ask students to provide us with pertinent
information that validates their cultural legitimacy and service to their
 How does this affect those students whose parents denied their ancestry in
fear of racism? These children are now seeing out their legitimate
Indigenous identity but may not have had the opportunity to know their
community or culture. Should they now be denied access to one of these
designated spaces in post-secondary programs or financial support?
Competition = Need
 Do we base selection of scant resources – on who needs them the
 Here’s a scenario of two students competing for a space in a professional school
with very limited spaces available:
 One student has an MMF card, comes from a place of privilege (financial
and social), has no connection to the Metis community and has little
awareness of Indigenous culture but has a highly competitive G.P.A.;
 The other student is from a Northern Metis community, has two children, has
a part-time job to support his family, is fully engaged in the Metis community
but has a G.P.A. that is much lower but still eligible for Special
As educational administrators, how do we choose the best student for this space?
Contact Information
Dr. Diedre Desmarais
Area Director, Access & Aboriginal Focus
Phone: 1-204-474-8099
Email: Diedre.Desmarais@umanitoba.ca
Adrienne Carriere
Associate Area Director, Access &
Aboriginal Focus Programs
Phone 1-204-474-7948
Email: Adrienne.Carriere@umanitoba.ca