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Hiding in Plain Site

Discovering the Métis Nation in Archival Records at Library and Archives Canada

In the 18th century, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company established a series of trading posts for trade with First Nations. A result of these interactions were marital or common-law unions between Europeans involved in the fur trade and First Nations women. In time, their children became what is now known as the Métis Nation.

Identifying Citizens of the Métis Nation in the archival record collections of Library and Archives Canada can be problematic. While there are portraits of well-known leaders and politicians, images depicting Métis Citizens are difficult to find. Adding to this challenge are the archival descriptions, which were mostly created over a century ago and exemplify colonial views of the “other” culture. As a result, Citizens of the Métis Nation have often been misidentified or incorrectly described and, in some cases, completely omitted from the historical record.

This exhibit explores the portrayal of Métis—some of whom are “hiding in plain sight”—in art and photographic collections and the accompanying descriptions.

Library and Archives Canada would like to recognize the knowledge and expertise provided by the Métis National Council and the Manitoba Metis Federation in the creation of this exhibition.

Presented in partnership with Metis Nation BC.

Spotlight on the Exhibit

The community is invited to experience Métis artisans and live entertainment on Sunday, October 28 from 1 to 4pm.