Manitoba Metis Federation

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The Manitoba Metis Federation (French: Fédération des Métis du Manitoba) is the official democratic and self-governing political representative for the Metis Nation’s Manitoba Metis Community in Manitoba, Canada. Its current president is David Chartrand. MMF is an affiliate of the Métis National Council.


Long before Manitoba Metis Federation was formed there were Métis organizations in The Pas, Norway House, Thompson, Camperville, Berens River, Fort Ellice (St. Lazare) and the John Boscoe Local in Winnipeg. By 1964 a joint Métis and First Nation committee had been formed in Churchill. Their only vehicle for meeting together had been the annual Indian and Métis Conference in Winnipeg. In 1964, the Métis delegates met separately and called for better organizing of Métis communities in order to strengthen their voice at the annual conferences.

The Northern Halfbreed Association was formed in Manitoba in the early 1930s to represent the Métis and Non-Status Indians of the Métis settlements near The Pas, Moose Lake and Cedar Lake. The settlements were: The Thomas Settlement, Wooden Tent (Metikewap), Pine Bluff, Moose Lake, Big Eddy, Young Point, Rall’s Island and Umphreville.

Prior to the incorporation of the MMF in 1967, the primary organization for social action for the Native people in Manitoba was the annual Indian and Métis Conference (founded in 1954) which was sponsored by the Community Welfare Planning Council of Winnipeg. The MMF had its start in the 1950s when these annual conferences began to apply pressure on the senior levels of government for housing programs. Whereas the federal government (DIA) had introduced housing programs on reserves, the Métis were ineligible for housing assistance. The Métis formed several housing associations in order to pressure the Province of Manitoba for Métis housing programs. Subsequently, these housing associations amalgamated to form the Manitoba Métis Housing Association. At the March 1967 annual Indian and Métis Conference this association tabled the results of housing surveys in 16 Métis communities and a list of eleven resolutions and proposals. This included a proposal that the Province of Manitoba address the issue of housing in remote areas. During this annual meeting of the Indian and Métis Conference, sponsored by the Winnipeg Community Welfare and Planning Council, a number of Métis attending the meeting realized that they could only make their concerns heard if they had an independent voice.

They subsequently met in private and decided to form a Federation of Métis people. Thus the Manitoba Metis Federation was founded on October 1, 1967 and incorporated as a non-profit association under the Companies Act of Manitoba in December 1967. Those present at the first meeting, who can be called the founders of MMF, were Adam Cuthand, Elizabeth Isbister, Edward "Ed" Simard, Tom Eagle and Angus Spence. Adam Cuthand was appointed as the first voluntary non-paid president.

Manitoba Metis Federation and the Native Council of Canada:

The Native Council of Canada arose out of a November 16, 1970 meeting of the Métis Associations of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta with the British Columbia As-sociation of Non-Status Indians at Victoria, British Columbia. Several subsequent meetings led to the official launch and opening of a NCC national office in Ottawa in April of 1971.

Prior to the holding of the constitutionally guaranteed First Minister Conference to further identify and define the rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, it became apparent that the Métis Nation needed to be able to once again represent itself at a national level through its own voice - a Métis voice. The pan-Aboriginal structures of the Native Council of Canada (now known as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples) and its affiliates did not allow the Métis Nation to effectively represent itself.

As a result, in March 1983, the Métis Nation separated from the Native Council of Canada to form the Métis National Council (MNC) - its own Métis-specific national representative body. The presidents of NCC up to the MNC split were; Tony Belcourt (1971-1972), Kermit Moore (1972-1973), Gloria George (1973-1975), and Smokey Bruyere (1981-1983). The Native Council of Canada continued its operations until 1994, when it changed its name to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. It is now an alliance of Non-Status Indians from across the country and Métis from areas such as Labrador and the Maritimes and other Eastern Provinces.

As a sidebar to the NCC discussion; in 1983 Walter Menard formed a competing group called the Métis Confederacy of Manitoba of which he was president (while still holding his VP position with MMF). After MMF left NCC, the Métis Confederacy of Manitoba held the two Manitoba seats in NCC. After MMF under President Don McIvor did away with delegate voting for elections in favour of one-person-one-vote in 1983, the Métis Confederacy of Manitoba dissolved.

Manitoba Metis Federation and the Métis Constitutional Alliance: This Alliance was formed in Winnipeg on October 7, 1982 when the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Federation of Métis Settlements (Alberta) declared their independence from the Native Council of Canada with the goal of pursuing Métis constitutional issues at the upcoming Section 37 Constitutional Conference. The MCA proclamation was signed by Elmer Ghostkeeper on behalf of FMS and Don McIvor on behalf of MMF. At an NCC meeting on January 13-14, 1982 it was clear that the NCC emphasis was on representing the needs of Non-Status Indians to the detriment on Métis concerns.

The Métis wanted both NCC seats at the conference and NCC offered to split them. As a result Jim Sinclair resigned as chairman of the NCC Constitutional Committee and Sinclair along with Elmer Ghostkeeper, Don McIvor and Sam Sinclair left the NCC meeting. On the 18th of January 1983 the MCA telexed Prime Minister Trudeau to announce their withdrawal from NCC and their demand that NCC be decertified as a Métis representative at the constitutional conference.

On January 22, 1983 over 100 elected Métis representatives met in Edmonton to discuss formation of a new national Métis political group. However, they could not solve the issue of structure, but agreed to formalize an alliance called the Métis Constitutional Conference (MCC) for the purposes of representation at the constitutional talks. This group was composed of the three prairie provincial associations and the FMS with the under-standing that the Métis from British Columbia and northwestern Ontario would join later. Jim Sinclair then negotiated with NCC for one seat their seats to be assigned to MCC at the constitutional talks. Elmer Ghostkeeper took the MCC seat for the talks in February 1983. On February 28 under pressure from AFN and ICNI the federal Justice Minister announced that they would only recognize NCC as the Métis representative and MCC was effectively expelled from the talks.

Manitoba Metis Federation and the Metis National Council

On March 3, 1983 representatives of MMF, AMNSIS and MAA reached an accord on a national Métis representative body. The boards of the charter members then met and the Métis National Council was officially formed on March 8, 1983. Notably, Federation of Metis Settlements (FMS) had been left out. The delegates also decided to establish a position for a national representative to attend the first minister’s conference. Clément Chartier was elected to that post. He signed the 1983 Constitutional Accord on behalf of MNC.

After the first ministers conference of 1983 the MNC dealt with requests for admission by the other Métis associations contiguous with the three Prairie Provinces and the Louis Riel Métis Association of British Columbia, and the Northwestern Ontario Métis Federation were admitted. The assembly also eliminated the position of national representative but continued with a small lobby office in Ottawa. A committee under Clem Chartier including Elmer Ghostkeeper from FMS was to steer policy development in the interim. In the constitutional conferences of 1885 the MNC decided that only the Provincial affiliate presidents would sit at the table for MNC. At the annual MNC assembly of October 16, 1988 the boards of the member affiliates elected W. Yvon Dumont from Manitoba as MNC president. Dumont served as president until 1993; successor presidents are Gerald Morin (1993-2003, suspended, January 12, 2003), Audrey Poitras (January 12, 2003 interim President and National spokesperson), Clément Chartier (October 2003 to present). The current affiliates of MNC are the Métis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Métis Nation - Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Alberta, and the Métis Nation British Columbia.


The first MMF non-elected Board of Directors was Adam Cuthand, Joe Keeper and Alfred Disbrowe. Political leaders are elected through province-wide ballot box elections. Each of the seven regions elects a Vice-President and two additional board members. The President is elected by province-wide ballot. The provincially elected Spokeswoman of Infinity Women is also a board member. Thus the Board of Governors of the Manitoba Metis Federation has 23 elected members.

The successive presidents of the MMF have been:

President From To
Adam Cuthand 1967 1970
Angus Spence 1970 1973
Connie Eyolfson 1973 1974
Ferdinand Guiboche 1974 1975
Edward Head 1975 1976
John Morrisseau 1976 1981
Don McIvor 1981 1984
Yvon Dumont 1984 1993
Ernie Blais 1993 1994
Billyjo DeLaRonde 1994 1997
David Chartrand 1997 present

Further reading[edit]

  • Barkwell, Lawrence J. The History of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Winnipeg: Louis Riel Institute, 2018.ISBN 9781927531198
  • Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion, and Audreen Hourie. Métis legacy Michif culture, heritage, and folkways. Métis legacy series, v. 2. Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2006. ISBN 0-920915-80-9
  • Barkwell, Lawrence J., Leah Dorion and Darren Prefontaine. "Metis Legacy: A Historiography and Annotated Bibliography". Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc. and Saskatoon: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2001. ISBN 1-894717-03-1
  • Chartrand, Paul L. A. H. Manitoba's Métis Settlement Scheme of 1870. Saskatoon: Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan, 1991. ISBN 0-88880-242-0
  • Ens, Gerhard J. and Joe Sawchuk. From New Peoples to New Nations: Aspects of Metis History and Identity from the Eighteenth to Twenty-First Centuries. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4426-2711-6
  • Flanagan, Thomas. Metis Lands in Manitoba. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1991. ISBN 0-919813-87-9
  • McFee, Janice. Famous Manitoba Métis. Winnipeg: Manitoba Métis Federation Press, 1974.
  • Morrison, Sheila Jones. Rotten to the Core The Politics of the Manitoba Métis Federation. Victoria, B.C.: 101060, 1995. ISBN 1-896239-08-0
  • Pelletier, E. A Social History of the Manitoba Métis. Winnipeg: Manitoba Métis Federation Press, 1977. ISBN 0-919213-54-5
  • Sawchuk, Joe. The Metis of Manitoba Reformulation of an Ethnic Identity. Toronto: P. Martin Associates, 1978. ISBN 0-88778-177-2
  • Sealey, D. Bruce. Statutory Land Rights of the Manitoba Metis. Winnipeg, Man: Manitoba Métis Federation Press, 1975.
  • Sealey, D. Bruce. Education of the Manitoba Metis An Historical Sketch. Winnipeg: Dept. of Education, Native Education Branch, 1977.
  • St-Onge, Nicole J. M. Saint-Laurent, Manitoba Evolving Métis Identities, 1850-1914. Canadian plains studies, 45. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 2004. ISBN 0-88977-173-1