Traditional Metis sash

Traditional Metis sash and its meaningmetis sash

Hello everyone!

So far I have discussed mostly the Native American cultures, beliefs and practices. Today I would like to focus on what is now considered a distinct Aboriginal group in Canada, the Metis people.

What is Metis?

For those of you who have never heard that term, it refers to people with mixed ancestry, typically European and Indigenous. Oftentimes, it was the mother who was Aboriginal (oftentimes Cree, Ojibwe, or Algonquin). Some Metis people come from French European “voyageur” fathers and some come from Anglophone fathers. Today, however, no distinction is made and they all constitute the Metis nation. However, it does explain why many Metis people have a French last name.

Today the Metis nation defines the Metis territory as the three Prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), parts of Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Northern United States. Although it might appear to have been chosen randomly, this territory originates from what is called the Red River settlement. The Red River settlement takes its name from the colony that settled in 1812 on the Red and Assiniboine rivers, whose boundaries crossed what is now part of Manitoba and North Dakota. For more information on the colony and settlement, see this site. For now, just know that the Metis people originated in part from Western Canada expanding from the Red River settlement. Nonetheless, some will say that due to a majority of French speaking people in Quebec, Metis people are also found in the province of Quebec. Nevertheless, others will argue that there are no pure Metis people in eastern Canada. Indeed, being of mixed ancestry does not equate being Metis. Being Metis refers to possessing a singular cultural heritage of dual ancestry or origins. In other words, a unique culture was born from the union of two ancestries, European and Aboriginal. If one’s heritage includes this unique cultural aspect, then one is Metis. I do not want to go into more details about the history of the Metis culture in this post, but for a more detailed history, see this site. Rather, I would like to discuss the traditional Metis sash and its meaning.

Metis sash

Metis sash

The Traditional Metis Sash

Winter Carnival

Most of you might not know what the Metis sash is or what it represents. The sash is the one pictured above. For those of you who are from Quebec, like me, you could have thought all this time that the sash was called the Winter carnival sash or “la ceinture flechee”. Indeed, every winter, Quebec city has a Winter carnival, with snow and ice sculptures, a parade, an ice castle, eating maple syrup on the snow, etc. And a mascot named “Bonhomme Carnival”, which is basically a big snowman. That would be him below. Notice what he is wearing?? Yep that would be a variation of the Metis sash. Moreover, if you are in Quebec city during the carnival, you will encounter numerous individuals wearing the sash. But as a child, I never learned (or at least I really do not recall learning) about the significance of the sash. So the sash became known as the winter carnival sash.

winter carnival

Bonhomme Carnaval

Real significance of the sashmetis sash up close

However, as you might have guessed by now, as my post is about the Metis nation and the Metis sash, the winter carnival sash is really the Metis sash. It took me 35 years to learn the real meaning of the sash, but it was recently  explained to me in one of my courses. To know more about the program I am enrolled in, see my previous post about Aboriginal focusing oriented therapy. As one can see, the Metis sash has numerous colors. And each color has a different meaning. If you look at the picture, you will see red, green, gold, blue, white and at the end of it (in the fringe part), there is a tiny bit of black. Let’s look at the meaning of each color.

The color red is the most prominent color in the sash. The red represents the lives that were lost over the years. It represents the blood that has flowed and has been washed away. But at the same time, the Metis people are still here today, so it represents their strength. The green in the sash represents fertility. Fertility from the womb, the birth process but also from the land. What is given to us by the land and by the life givers, aka women. The gold signifies prosperity and the resilience of the people. Their will to continue their cultural heritage and pass it down to future generations. Their resilience through trauma. The blue represents spirituality, our connectedness to one another, the “all my relations” part. Similarly, the white signifies our connection to the Creator, to the land, to the sky and to water. Finally, the little black thread at the end of the sash represents colonization. The loss of culture, lives, ways of life. However, as it was pointed out to me, the black thread is alone and tiny compared to the rest of the sash. People were there way before and continued to be there way after. It was part of history but it was not the whole history or story. 

The Metis symbol

metis sash and symbol

Metis sash and symbol

Finally, the Metis people also have a symbol, which you can see on the sash on the right. Yes, some people would say “it’s the infinity symbol”. And they would be right, it is. However, it also has another meaning within the Metis culture. Actually, it as two. The symbol represents the joining of two cultures as well as the existence of people forever. 🙂

 

Finally, if you would like to have your own sash, you can certainly have one. You can buy them on here on Amazon.ca, as well as other related products such as books.Or here on Amazon.com.

All my Relations

 

 

24 thoughts on “Traditional Metis sash

  1. Nichole

    I love learning the history of different cultures. Gives you a better idea of who they are as people. Personally I think everyone should learn other cultures and maybe that would help people understand each other better too 🙂 just my thought lol. Great article!

    Reply
  2. bryan

    very interesting post on the traditional metis sash and the metis people. I never knew there was so much culture there. I find it so interesting that each color in the sash has very significant meaning! I really like how well you explained everything thank you!

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      thanks Bryan! I tried to explain it the best that I can! Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea either that each color had a meaning

      Reply
  3. Sylvia

    I’m glad to learn more about this unique culture!
    I love how you explain the meaning of the colours.
    The sash looks more beautiful after knowing the real significance of it.

    Reply
  4. Durocher

    Are you trying to sell sashes or what? I am Metis and I do not care about your explanation of the meaning of the sash.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hello
      I do not sell sashes no. I am explaining the sash as it was explained to me by a Metis older woman. I am sorry if you felt offended in some way. Have you heard a different explanation?

      Reply
  5. Vera

    Hi Emily, it´s very interesting to learn about the traditions of the Native American cultures. Thanks for sharing your great knowledge, I will come back to learn more!
    Vera

    Reply
  6. Jesse

    Wonderful post on native american item! I’ve been quite interested everything related to native american culture and history and this gave a lot of valuable and fresh information to me. I even got a tattoo on my back which is native american art style called Haida. Or is it even native american atleast I thought so :-O

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Jesse! Thanks I hope you saw my post about Native American tattoos! Haida is Native. It comes from the Haida Gwaii island just west of British Columbia, where I am from.

      Reply
  7. Fatima

    Hi Emily,
    I am from different cultures and this is my first time to read about the people of Metis and their heritage The Traditional Metis Sash, I love this post really it’s great there is a wonderful information, bookmarked it.

    Reply
  8. Ed

    Hi Emily,

    Your article on the “Traditional Metis sash” is really great! I love the history section where you explain what “Metis” means and that sash is beautiful. Thanks! Cheers 🙂

    Reply
  9. Gaïa Guardian

    Great info about the sash, but terrible perception of who ‘qualifies’ as a Métis.
    Perhaps you should study the meaning of the flag and the sash again.
    A true Métis is a grounded holistic person, always seeking unity, not individuality.
    My french noble ancestors married indian women from Acadia, Québec, Ontario and Manitoba.
    They, colonized the north, south, east and west. You exist today because they survived, at all costs.
    Please, have some respect.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Gaia
      I am sorry if this offended you. Those are teachings I have received. I also believe that a Metis person seeks to be a holistic person, just like the teachings of the medicine wheel provide. I don’t think I wrote anything here that would contradict this. I am also from a line of French ancestors in Quebec. I get where you are coming from. I do and say this with respect as I do respect all living things.

      Reply

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