A short explanation of how modern Métis identity is established
One of the most hotly contested and often debated topics lately is who is Métis, or how does a person establish their Métis identity beyond simply being mixed-blood.
So how is exactly is Métis identity established? Let's take a look at the example of the Manitiba Metis Federation.
First, Métis identity is initially started by self-identification. You must declare that you are Métis. That's the easy part. You know yourself to be a Métis person who descends from the historic Métis community that arose on the prairies of Canada and the northern United States, and you have every right to claim that identity.
The next step in establishing Métis identity (beyond simple self-identification) is to establish your ancestral connection to the Historic Métis Community and the current Métis Nation. This is done through completing a valid genealogy with supporting evidentiary documents, such as Federal Census records showing your ancestors to be Métis, sacramental records that establish family connections, Métis-related documents such as Manitoba and Northwest scrip affidavits, fur post records and journals, or other data that shows the connection. This connection may have to be verified by a certified genealogist that is acceptable to the Métis Nation, such as the St. Boniface Historical Society which verifies genealogies for the Manitoba Métis Federation. This vital part of the process establishes that connection which is vital to proving your connection to a historical Métis community.
The final step is to be accepted by the contemporary Métis community as a Métis person who qualifies as a citizen of the Métis Nation. This is done through an application that includes your declaration as a self-identified Métis; your certified genealogy and supporting documents proving your connection to the historic Métis community; and by having your citizenship application verified and acceptance by the Métis Nation, in this case the Manitoba Métis Federation and the 'local' that you are affiliated with. Once your citizenship application is accepted by the community and the local representatives, you are issued a MMF Citizenship/Membership card and are a duly-accepted citizen who can vote, take part in certain educational and employment programs set forth for Métis people, participate in special cultural activities and community functions by the Federation, and even become an elected representative and serve the Métis community. You may also be able to qualify as a Métis Harvester and undertake traditional subsistence hunting to feed yourself and the Métis community.
Citizenship in the Métis Nation is not required, but being part of the Nation helps re-affirm your ties to the historic community, helps strengthen the Métis Nation in negotiating for more rights for the Métis people, and helps to repair generational trauma and bolster the contemporary community now, and for future generations that come after you.