Ask any Canadian what “Métis” means, and they will likely say “mixed race.” Canadians consider Métis mixed in ways that other Indigenous people are not, and the census and courts have premised their recognition of Métis status on this race-based understanding. Andersen argues that Canada got it wrong. From its roots deep in the colonial past, the idea of Métis as mixed has slowly pervaded the Canadian consciousness until it settled in the realm of common sense. In the process, “Métis” has become a racial category rather than the identity of an Indigenous people with a shared sense of history and culture.
Chris Andersen is an associate professor, the associate dean (research), and the director of the Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. He is also the current editor of aboriginal policy studies, an online, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing on Métis, non-Status Indian, and urban Aboriginal issues in Canada and abroad. He is co-editor of Indigenous in the City: Contemporary Identities and Cultural Innovation (UBC Press, 2013).
Andersen does a superb job of engaging with the scholarship of the field, allowing the reader to gain a clear understanding of its historical trajectory and where Andersen’s work stands in comparison ... Métis is an important contribution and I expect that it will spur lively discussions, productive critiques, and shift the scholarship in the field.
“Métis” is, without a doubt, essential reading for everyone who studies the Métis, Indigeneity, and/or race and racialization as it provides a powerful critique of Métis racialization and an example of the impact of racialization on Indigenous nations.
Andersen's book is thorough and deep, insightful and provocative. Some will find it unsettling. But, for anyone interested in questions of Métis identity, or more generally Indigenous rights in Canada, it is an essential read.