History & Culture


Our Way of Being Métis – Storytelling

Every Métis family and community has their own unique way of telling stories. Through oral tradition, our Métis worldview, history, and cultural teachings are preserved for future generations. Our stories give us our identity and a sense of belonging.

Old forms of Métis storytelling often incorporate cultural teachings to emphasize behavioural expectations or codes of conduct. Métis storytellers use humour to teach standards of right and wrong and through trickster characters such as Chi-Jean or Wiisakaychaak, we learn about the consequences of our choices.

Métis worldview and spirituality are embedded in our stories. In her book, “Stories of the Road Allowance”, Métis author and Elder Maria Campbell shares her insights on traditional storytelling. She introduces readers to Roogaroos, traditional Métis shapeshifters, and the lessons they provide. She examines colonialism and its effects on the spirits and minds of Métis people and emphasizes the value of humor in Métis culture. Laughter has always been an important element of Métis life and by protecting our traditional Michif language, we also preserve a particular style of humor that cannot be translated.

Our very own storykeeper

Jason McKay, AKA The Wandering Metis, has devoted himself to collecting and sharing the stories and histories of Métis people from across the homeland, a sample of which lies below. To see more of his content, you can check him out on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or the Wandering Métis page under the Community tab located at the top of this page.

February is Indigenous Storytelling Month

Traditionally, certain stories – such as those about Roogaroos – were reserved for the winter months, as a means of passing time on the coldest, darkest months of the year. In keeping with this tradition, the month of February has been declared Indigenous Storytelling Month. Throughout the month, there are many storytelling events throughout the homeland, and it is a good time to consider reading or listening to lii koont (legends) for yourself and your family.

We have compiled a list of traditional and contemporary stories that you can download here. If you have any suggestions of stories you think we should add to the list, please email us at [email protected] and let us know!

“There are different ways of telling stories. Some people would get up and they would recite really long stories; they would almost sing or chant them. Then there were stories that people played with fiddles and were part of fiddle dances. There were the stories that were told in the evening in the winter — and there were stories that had laws and and taught us how to live good lives.” 

Maria Campbell, Métis author, playwright, broadcaster, filmmaker and Elder (CBC Radio, November 2, 2019)

Storytelling is a widely used practice throughout Indigenous cultures, and Métis storytelling in particular has important protocols to guide how a story is told. Certain Elders and storytellers have certain protocols they follow, each as diverse as the stories they tell. Before engaging a particular storyteller, it’s important to seek guidance from their community to learn acceptable protocol.

Contemporary Métis storytellers are keeping the spirit of storytelling alive. Every Métis person has a story to tell about their own lived experiences. Returning to the traditional circle is a common narrative in contemporary Métis society. After experiencing disconnections due to the intergenerational impacts of colonization, land dispossession, and assimilation policies, many Métis have found their way back to their culture.

Modern Métis writers like Jesse Thistle are courageously telling inspiring stories of survival, resilience, and healing. Writers from across Canada use prose, poetry, biographies, spoken word, and other forms of personal expression to share Métis perspectives through a new form of storytelling.