Metis Ethnogenesis - Creation of Michif Language and Use of Other Metis Languages


The Gabriel Dumont Institute, an institute for the preservation of Metis culture and education defines Mitchif (also known as Michif, Mechif, Michif-Cree, Métif, Métchif, French Cree, Michif/Mitchif-French and Métis-French) as "a very distinct dialect of Canadian French which has Cree and Ojibway syntax. Michif-French was once the object of fierce ridicule by Francophones—Breton French and French Canadians (Canayens)—who considered it as a “bad” form of French" (see "relevant resources" below). Primary source interviews (excerpted below in "relevant resources") describe many Metis languages, in addition to Mitchif, being spoken in Metis homes. These languages include French, Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota and Chipewyan. English became more commonplace in Metis homes as Metis children began to attend public and residential schools. Although, Metis people (particularly older speakers) have also adapted English to their own uses, creating a unique Metis dialect of English. There is also a history of loss of Metis languages due to a combination of factors. Experiences of racism both in schools and the larger community fostered an internalization of shame regarding Metis ethnic identity. This furthered the government's goals of assimilation of Indigenous people, as some Metis people hid their identity and learned to speak English in order to better integrate into mainstream, non-Indigenous society (please see related entry on cultural dislocation of Metis people through education and the related entry on general Metis experiences of racism). This was done to avoid discrimination - especially in education and employment (related entry on general Metis experiences of racism provides some evidence of this).

For more information on the cultural patterns relating to the use of these languages, please consult the entry on loss of Metis languages as a result of the mainstream education system.
Sub Event
While Michif is a distinct language that is the result of the development of the Metis nation, it is also common for Metis people to speak other Indigenous languages, such as Cree and French.