Supporting Métis Culture in British Columbia

Cultural Request Form

BC Métis Federation has established a Cultural Committee that is inviting the partner communities and members to apply for cultural event requests. The process is open throughout the year and applicants will be reviewed on a first come first save basis with contingent on available resources.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Cultural Request Form.

Michif Legacy Project

The Michif Legacy project is a collaboration between the BC Métis Federation and it’s partner communities Nova Métis Heritage association and the Caribou Chilcotin Métis Association to promote the Michif Language.

Click here to learn more about this language project.

Stories of Métis History and Culture

On the weekly Coffee Talk broadcasts, Keith regularly shares stories of Métis history and culture. These stories are collected on this page in PDF format for easy reference.


A Full History of the Exchange

by Joe Desjarlais

Fur trade stories have long been mired in neo-classic ideas that success or failure has been dependent on the ability of indigenous people to integrate into prevailing economic structures. I got thinking about my own work as a public historian on the BC fur trade history. I encountered the fur trade post to fur trade post thinking in my research. This idea was that anything and anyone outside the fur trade post is drawn to the core. In this view, these people out there beyond the reach of the fort were without an economy, had no history, nor political and legal systems that mattered. Accompanying this type of thinking were ideas that a relatively empty land that settlers discovered was free to possess, and then others could be justifiably excluded in the process.

Click here to read the full article.


Métis Historical Landmarks and Geographical Locations in BC – Part One

Reproduced by George and Terry Goulet, BCMF Historical Consultants 

The Métis first entered the lands now known as British Columbia over two hundred years ago as voyageurs with the great explorers of the North West Company (NWC), Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser and David Thompson. The NWC wished to expand the fur trade west of the Rocky Mountains and to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean.

With Mackenzie they traveled to the Arctic Ocean in 1789 and to Dean Channel on the Pacific Ocean in 1793. In 1808 Simon Fraser and his men descended the treacherous rapids to the mouth of the river that was to bear his name. David Thompson and his crew found a navigable route in 1811 that would take them to the mouth of the mighty Columbia River with the waves of the Pacific Ocean pounding on the shoreline.

Click here to read the full article.


Métis Historical Landmarks and Geographical Locations in BC – Part Two

Reproduced by George and Terry Goulet, BCMF Historical Consultants 

Fort Nanaimo was built under the direction of the Métis Joseph William McKay of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1852 pursuant to the instructions of Governor James Douglas. The prior year McKay had learned from Chief “Coal Tyee” of the existence of coal at this site. The Fort was located on Nanaimo Harbour on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.

The settlement that grew up around this mining post has developed into the City of Nanaimo. The original Bastion is still standing today and bears a plaque honoring Joseph William McKay as founder of the City of Nanaimo.

Click here to read the full article.


Métis Historical Landmarks and Geographical Locations in BC – Part Three

Reproduced by George and Terry Goulet, BCMF Historical Consultants 

John Swanson, a Métis born in Rupert’s Land in 1826, became an apprentice sailor with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1842 and spent the remainder of his life west of the Rocky Mountains. As a young employee of the HBC, he helped to clear the site where Fort Victoria was to be built. Subsequent to that he spent his entire career with the HBC in the Pacific Coast maritime trade. He progressed through the HBC ranks and became both a Chief Trader and Master Mariner. He continued in these positions until the time of his death in 1872.

The Métis Master Mariner John Swanson has been memorialized in three geographical locations in British Columbia that bear his name. They are:

  • Swanson Bay – in Graham Reach on the Inside Passage
  • Swanson Channel – in Haro Strait, NW of Pender Island
  • Swanson Island – on Blackfish Sound, Broughton Strait
Click here to read the full article.


1875 Métis Governance

The system of government used by England and many of its colonies, including Canada, was thought to be the most progressive in the world throughout the 19th century. But the British system of government was not truly democratic. For example, in Canada many people were not yet enfranchised. Women could not vote. Indians could not vote. Working people and poor people could not vote unless they owned property. Substantial wealth was required of potential appointees to the Senate in Canada. Appointees had to be British subjects aged 30 or over, who owned real property valued at $4000 and clear of debt.

The Métis system of government, on the other hand, was described by historians as uncivilized, yet it was in many ways a model democracy. All positions of social importance, save that of the priests, were filled by elected members. This was true not only in the political positions, such as council members, but also in the economic sphere of activity. Men who had proven themselves good hunters, or men of wisdom or compassion, were elected to the Métis council.

Click here to read the full article.


The Métis in British Columbia

by George and Terry Goulet

Over two hundred years ago, the Métis first crossed west of the Continental Divide and descended the Rocky Mountains into the beautiful lands now known as British Columbia. Wearing their colorful sashes and singing rollicking songs, they were pathfinders, voyageurs, fur traders, guides, interpreters and builders.

The Métis were crew members for the North West Company’s (NWC) great explorers Alexander Mackenzie, Simon Fraser and David Thompson all of whom have major rivers in Canada named in their honor. These explorations were intended to expand the fur trade west of the Rockies to meet the increasing demand for the valuable beaver, as well as other furs. Another goal of their expeditions was to search for an overland route to the Pacific Ocean and the potential for trade with the lucrative markets of the Orient.

Click here to read the full article.