Michif is the language spoken exclusively by Métis, who are the descendants of French fur traders and First Nations women, dating back to days of the Red-River Settlement in Manitoba.
The Michif language is a combination of French nouns and Cree verbs and is spoken by Metis in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and in the South Slave region of the Northwest Territories. The highest numbers of Michif speakers are found in the Prairies.
In an effort to preserve, protect and teach the Michif language, the Métis Nation of Alberta was involved in a number of Michif projects throughout the province. We have contributed funding to an annual Michif conference hosted by a different MNC affiliate each year.
A contribution agreement between the MNA and the Department of Canadian Heritage for a Michif language Program was established and implemented over a 3-year period, from 2007-2010. During this time, the MNA completed a number of activities to help maintain, preserve and promote the Michif language, culture and heritage, including the following:
- Identification of Speakers: resulting in a Michif Speakers Committee and a Michif Speakers List (and Bureau);
- Documentation: a published book, with the proposed title, Michif in Alberta;
- Language Instruction: Language Immersion Camp (held in September 2008 at Metis Crossing); and
- Language Promotion: a provincial Michif language conference
The MNA continues to seek opportunities to advance Michif programming and seeks to preserve this unique element of Métis culture.