Dalhousie Law Journal


Métis, Indian, identity, definition, culture, dichotomy


This article argues that the legal definition that defines Metis people in opposition to Indian detracts from the goal of recognizing the Metis as a distinct people. The article argues that we ought to de-couple the definitions of Metis and Indian to more strongly recognize Metis as a distinct people. This article considers three intertwined concerns that arise from this dichotomous approach to Metis identity The first concern is about the "hard line" created in the definition between Indian and Metis, forcing one to be either Indian or Metis. The second concern is that changes to the definition of Indian may impact the definition of Metis, making the two identities contingent and inherently connected. The final related concern is that defining Metis as "not Indian" leads to the question of how distinct Metis culture needs to be from Indian culture for recognition. The article argues that we need to re-centre the definition of Metis on being Metis people based on internal characteristics (who Metis are) and move away from the legal definition of Metis being contingent on the legal definition of Indian (who Metis are not).