This book, and accompanying Vimeo documentary link (DVD available on request), is a collection of stories about culture, history, and nationhood as told by Métis women. The Métis are known by many names — Otipemisiwak, “the people who own ourselves;” Bois Brules, “Burnt Wood;” Apeetogosan, “half brother” by the Cree; “half-breed,” historically; and are also known as “rebels” and “traitors to Canada.” They are also known as the “Forgotten People.” Few really know their story.
Many people may also think that Métis simply means “mixed,” but it does not. They are a people with a unique and proud history and Nation. In this era of reconciliation, Stories of Métis Women explains the story of the Métis Nation from a their own perspective. The UN has declared this “The Decade of Indigenous Languages” and Stories of Métis Women is one of the few books available in English and Michif, which is an endangered language.
About the authors
Bailey Oster, Author/Editor
Bailey Oster is a Métis woman with roots in the Red River Settlement and St. Paul des Métis. Bailey received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a special research focus in restorative justice. She currently works as a manager within the Youth Programs and Services Department at the Métis Nation of Alberta. She was elected as the youngest ever Vice President of New Dawn, the Métis Women’s Organization within Alberta in 2014 at 19 years old and still currently holds the position.
Marilyn Lizee, Editor
As a consultant for the Métis Nation of Alberta, Marilyn Lizee has created unique cultural training programs for the general public as well as for the Métis Nation. She has also developed a Métis Elder’s Abuse training program for both Elders and Seniors, as well as their caregivers, which she has implemented right across the province both in Métis and First Nation Communities.
Excerpt: Stories of Métis Women: Tales My Kookum Told Me (edited by Bailey Oster & Marilyn Lizee; foreword by Audrey Poitras; translated by Mary SkyBlue Morin; by (artist) Krista Leddy)
Music/Dance & Holidays/Celebrations & Social Life
Beatrice Demetrius: The Beaudry’s were a Métis family who lived up the hill; they played fiddles and guitars, and sang they were very talented. There was a young shy girl named Yvonne, everyone would ask her to jig, someone gave her a quarter, she would finally get up and dance the Red River Jig.
After harvest there would be a dance at the schoolhouse and everyone came. Mothers would place their babies in the cloak room on all the coats on the floor, they made coffee and baloney sandwiches, there would be cakes and cookies.
I remember going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve; my father would take us by sleigh, the church was about two miles away.
After Midnight Mass, we hung our stockings up. There would be an apple, orange, and some hard Christmas candy. We were thrilled; we got one present, usually a doll with a porcelain face and rag body, or a set of little dishes.
Christmas was a religious time for the families, the next day we would go by sleigh to our relative’s farm to see the tracks Santa made on a little hill near their place.
New Year’s Eve was a big celebration, where the families would gather at someone’s house, there would be music and dancing.
Doreen Bergum: At the end of the week, it was time to relax. Keeping in Métis tradition, they would throw out the furniture, and the families would haul in food (bannock and harvested meat, and cakes) fiddles, guitars and even the spoons. To dance, sing and laugh to enjoy their Métis culture.
As a young girl of five, I remember sleeping under the table at these events listening to the fiddle and the fun. That’s how I learned to do the Red River Jig. In fact, I learned from the best - my mother was a champion jigger.
The gathering would last until the sun came up. I watched feet flashing around the floor to the Red River Jig, Drops of Brandy, Heel and Toe Polka, Reel of Eight, Broom Dance and the Sash Dance. Our Métis spirit was alive!
My parents and my community taught us how to work with our hands, head, and heart.
With this book, some of these important and unique perspectives and worldviews about who we are as a people, how we have survived as people and how we will carry on and thrive as a people are shared through the writings of the daughters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers of the Métis Nation. I congratulate the Métis women who have taken the time to share and write down some of this knowledge for generations to come. —JASON MADDEN, Métis rights lawyer and citizen of the Métis Nation