While having an indigenous ancestor is key to claiming Métis identity, simply finding one in your family tree is probably not enough to make a valid claim to being Métis or becoming part of the Métis Nation as a citizen. Citizenship is a legal distinction that requires more than simply searching ancestry.com or having a distant ancestor.
Some people mistakenly think that having a distant ancestor gives them the right to declare themselves Métis, using the idea that Métis=mixed-blood ancestry. This is mostly erroneous, as ancestry and self-identification – while a basic component of Métis identity – are simply not enough. Beyond these, there must be an ancestral connection to the historic Métis Nation and the Métis community whose cultural practices, kinship system, and historical recognition which grounds the Métis identity. This is because Métis is not simply a racial designation. Rather, Métis is a national identity that emerged as a distinct entity in the historic Northwest during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries in the “historic Métis Nation Homeland,” which includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. The historic Métis Nation had recognized Aboriginal title which the Government of Canada attempted to extinguish through the issuance of “scrip” and land grants in the late 19th and 20th centuries to individuals who were part of the Métis Nation. If you lack an ancestor who was part of this process (i.e. aboriginal/Métis), it is improbable that you would qualify as a Métis.
Perhaps the easiest way to determine Métis ancestry and connection to the Métis Nation, and ensure you have sufficient information for citizenship in the Métis nation, is through the collecting of official documentation for your Métis ancestors. This can be done by obtaining such documents as census records, Manitoba and North West half-breed scrip or land grant documents, and other official documents such as church records that provide evidence of connection to the Nation.
One place where you can start your search is at the Library and Archives Canada. As the custodian of records of our distant past and recent history, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. This includes a vast volume of records pertaining to the Métis Nation and its historical citizens.
Some of the records available include:
Start your search at the Library and Archives of Canada...