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Distinctive Collective Identity

The distinct collective identity of the historic Georgian Bay Métis Community is seen through residency patterns (e.g.,distinctive Métis neighbourhoods), social status and social roles (e.g., fur trade and labouring jobs) as well as endogamy patterns (e.g., extensive in-group marrying and kinship relations). In addition, the community identified themselves as being distinctive through political advocacy and were recognized by others as a distinctive group.

For example, in a January 27, 1840 petition to the Governor General, the Métis identified themselves as a “the … half breeds residing in Town of Penetanguishene”. The writers highlighted that they did not share in any advantage from presents issued to the“Indians” from nearby communities. While the government did not formally respond, one Indian Agent Officer commented that both the First Nations and the Métis community he spoke to advocated for the interests of the Métis community, illustrating that each group viewed the Métis as a distinctive group with its own interests.

About this Document

This summary was prepared collaboratively by the Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) and the Ontario Government(“Ontario”). It is based on historical research currently available on Métis in Ontario. Many of the reports reviewed and relied on to create this summary are available online at:

The parties will consider additional historic information as it may become available. Identifying historic Métis communities is a necessary part of the legal requirements for establishing Métis rights, protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, however, the identification of historic Métis communities alone does not define contemporary rights-bearing Métis communities, determine who in Ontario is Métis, who holds Métis rights, or define Métis harvesting areas or territories.This summary does not necessarily address the claims of other self-identifying Métis communities not represented by the MNO. 

The conclusions in this summary do not limit the potential for other historic Métis communities to be identified or the expansion of recognition historic Métis communities in the future based on additional historic research.

***Hiding in Plain Sight: the Métis Nation, which explains that the Métis are a unique culture and nationhood and secondly, why so many Métis lost their culture between 1885 and more recent times: “As a group, Métis survived largely by being invisible, a tactic that existed until the 1960s”.

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