Research Report on Métis Community in Mattawa/ Nipissing Region Released

(December 10, 2014 - Ottawa, ON) ― Today, Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) President Gary Lipinski was pleased to announce the release of a historic report on the Métis in the Mattawa/Nipissing region. Click here to view the report: MNO Ontario Canada – Report on Mattawa Nipissing (Dec 2014).

The report was prepared by two independent companies: StoneCircle Consulting and Know History and is a result of a tripartite research initiative financially supported by the Ontario Government and the Government of Canada with equal participation of the MNO throughout.

After an extensive, independent review of both English and French historic records about the region, the researchers concluded that a distinct, inter-related Métis population emerged in the Mattawa/Nipissing study region in the early 1800s. Based on the history of the region, it is clear that this historic Métis community meets the legal test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 SCR 207. Today, the MNO represents the descendants of this historic Métis community throughout the region.

MNO President Lipinski said, “This report confirms what the MNO has always known. A significant, distinctive and interrelated Métis community emerged along the fur trade waterways in this region in the early 19th Century. This community is a part of a larger network that connects regional Métis communities within Ontario as a part of the larger Métis Nation. Any uncertainty about the history and contemporary existence of this rights-bearing Métis community should now be a thing of the past.”

This research also fulfills a shared commitment of the MNO and the Ontario Government flowing from the 2004 MNO-Ontario Harvesting Agreement with respect to pursuing joint research on the MNO’s identified traditional territories (as set out in the MNO Harvesting Policy and the attached map). This harvesting agreement, which remains in place today, recognizes the MNO Harvesting Policy and MNO Harvesters Card system in those traditional territories.

“I want to thank both Ontario and Canada for their support of this research initiative. This tripartite research demonstrates governments can work together to achieve results if there is political will and a sustained commitment. This report will also assist MNO in moving forward in our rights-based agenda based on the facts of history and will ensure proper Crown consultation occurs with the Métis community in this region in the future,” concluded President Lipinski.

Key Conclusions from Mattawa/Nipissing Historic Report:

  • A mixed-ancestry [Métis] community existed in the Mattawa region that has links with “Countrymen” population of former NWC and HBC employees. This mixed-ancestry [Métis] population was present throughout the entire study area and is visible through its common kinship, economic and religious practices. This community lived alongside and interacted with First Nations communities. Although this research focuses on the settlement of Mattawa, the extended network of the mixed-ancestry community is clearly evident along the Ottawa River and its tributaries between 1850 and 1920.
  • The settlement of Mattawa provided a focal point for this research. Situated at the eastern edge of the study area ... and at the confluence of the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers, two historic fur trade routes, Mattawa is a complex geographical hub with an extensive network of historic canoe and portage trails, and eventually roads and rail-roads. Consequently, mixed-ancestry [Métis] populations in the study area were mobile and moved at different seasons and stages of life which affected their presence in the historical record and the artificial boundaries required by this study: a crude triangularly-shaped territory with its apex above Lake Timiskaming in the north, west on the Mattawa River as far as Lake Nipissing, and then east on the Ottawa as far as Fort William/Lac des Allumettes. The researchers recognize that many of the networks presented in this report, and those that are not, likely transcend these geographic limits.
  • The kinship links within this community are significant: 89.92%, or 1027 of the 1142 people studied were connected to each other via immediate kinship links. Marriages were either endogamous (between groups of a same cultural community) or exogamous (incorporating First Nation or Euro-Canadian persons into a mixed-ancestry framework, for example). We see common behaviour and association within the community based on the visual representation of immediate kinship relationships, occupational data, and religious relationships of baptism. While the social network analysis was also limited by the availability of sources, the findings demonstrate presence of a cluster of 200+ persons who strategically associated with one another through time and space, creating a distinct social and cultural environment for themselves.

The maps below are from the report:

Mattawa mapClick here to view a larger version.








Traditional TerritoryClick here to view a larger version.

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