The term "Métis" is used broadly to describe people with mixed First Nation and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis, distinct from Indian, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people. (Many Canadians have mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry, but not all identify themselves as Métis).
The term "half-breed" was used almost exclusively by the federal government throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when referring to Métis people.
Therefore, when doing research in Canadian government records databases and when consulting original documents from this period you will obtain better results if you use the term "half-breed".
Research at Library and Archives Canada
Métis Land Claims
A complex series of legislation, beginning with the Manitoba Act of 1870, provided for the settlement of claims arising from Aboriginal rights to land in western Canada. The Manitoba claims cover the period from 1870 to 1885. Those for the Northwest Territories, which included present-day Saskatchewan and Alberta, cover the period from 1885 to 1906.
Many of the records generated by the Department of the Interior (RG 15) and the Claims Commissions contain genealogical information about the claimants, such as date and place of birth, and the names of parents, spouse and children.
The collection includes:
- applications for scrip;
- affidavits; and
- powers of attorney.
Most of the records are available on microfilm and can be searched using Archives Search. Consult the page How to Locate Métis Scrip Records in Archives Search. Many of the applications and affidavits have been digitized.
The Department of the Interior fonds (RG 15) also includes additional material relating to Métis Peoples in Manitoba such as:
- some parish registers;
- registers of grants;
- scrips; and
Some are contained on microfiche "aperture cards", some are paper originals and some are on microfilm. Only the microfilm copies are available for loan, while the others must be consulted onsite. These registers are not indexed in a database. Consult the Dominion Lands Branch inventory description for more details.
Some references to Métis People can be found in non-government collections. Records can be searched using Archives Search. Select "Textual material" to limit your search. Keywords: Métis
A comprehensive explanation of the claims process and detailed descriptions of all the records can be found on the website: Métis Scrip Records.
There were no records created by the Government of Canada relating to Métis People in other provinces and territories.
Census returns indicate each person's ethnic origin, e.g., Irish, Indian, French and Swedish. The 1901 Census also includes a "Race" column. The use of "breed" and "half-breed" indicated a person of mixed Native and other background. Abbreviations were used.
Research in other institutions and online
Many institutions hold microfilm copies of our Métis scrip records.
Research in published sources
Search for books on Métis in Collection Search, using authors, titles or subject terms such as:
- Métis genealogy
- Métis genealogies
- Métis généalogie
More information on the Métis
Please note that organizations representing Métis people in Canada have differing criteria about who qualifies as a Métis person. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples defines Métis as "individuals who have Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ancestry, self-identify themselves as Métis and are accepted by a Métis community as Métis". The Métis National Council defines Métis as "a person who self-identifies as Métis, is of historic Métis Nation ancestry, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples and is accepted by the Métis Nation". Please contact both these organizations for more information.