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. However, they originally came from eastern Canada, particularly Quebec. Nonetheless, some 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 First Nations. 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, it is possible to buy one  here on, as well as other related products such as books.Or here on However, please always be mindful what the sacred regalia you are wearing as it is very meaningful and not to be worn lightly. Please remember that for many years, it was not permitted to be worn. So please respect its meaning and significance. And always consult with Elders before making that decision. It is not an object to adorn and to accessorize with, it is sacred.

All my Relations



30 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!

  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!

    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

  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.

  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.

    1. Emily Post author

      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?

  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!

  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

    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.

  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.

  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 🙂

  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.

    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.

  10. Chad

    I know this reply is long after the post was made, I apologize for being so late to the discussion.

    I was born and raised on 1 of the 8 Metis settlements in Alberta.
    I have spent a lot of time researching the history of those settlements and Metis people in general. I want to respond now to thank you for presenting your Metis related knowledge here so that it can be found and appreciated by both Metis and non-Metis people.

    I am particularly impressed with how deftly you addressed the differing views of Metis and the dilemma that now faces our people in promoting a unified definition of “Metis”. Without wading into the debate, you presented the information that you’d gleaned. Well handled!

    Finally, I appreciate your description of the sash, its significance to Metis people, and its connection to Metis culture. What you’ve presented meshes nicely with everything I’ve ever been told about it. There are some variations with respect to the meaning of the colours but that is to be expected. (Additionally, sometimes colours are just colours – attractive sashes are more likely to be used than ugly ones!)

    Again, thank you for taking the time to turn people’s minds to my culture. We don’t generally get a lot of press so this was a happy find today!

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Chad
      awwww thank you, your comment touched my heart. I know that it is hard to please everyone and not everyone will agree with some of what I say. As we all receive different teachings and some things vary from culture to culture or from region to region. I feel very privileged to have received the teachings that I have. The Metis people are close to my heart as I come from a region where they are prevalent (I am still researching my own ancestry to pinpoint it better) and I have many Metis friends who are very proud of their heritage (which for sure often leads to a conversation about a definition of who “is Metis”). I am very glad to have met you here.

  11. Chief Karole Dumont

    It is very sad and unfortunate that the information you give about the origin of the Metis and of the sash is so false and misleading to those who are just learning about Metis history, identity, culture, and traditions! The first Metis were born in the east in the early 1600s, not in the early 1800s in the west. The Metis migration went from east to west , not the other way around. The one thing the Elders of all nations resent, is people spreading false history and teachings, especially by people who were not born and raised in the culture and the knowledge, but comes to it later in life. The Assomption sash originated in Quebec and was worn by the Voyageurs and Coureurs des Bois. I encourage you to speak to those who still carry that tradition, and are actually sash weavers.
    I invite you and all those who would like to learn the real Metis history to contact the Metis people who know their history.

    1. Emily Post author

      Hello Chief Dumont
      thank you for your comment. I am sorry if some of the things I included offended you. I am aware that the Metis nation originated in the east as it is also where I am from, my home territory. I was just explaining part of the history from the Red River settlement and on. Hence why I refer readers to another site for a more thorough version as this was not the goal of this article. I grew up around the Metis sash and it was very much a part of my life and culture surrounding me. I am familiar with the voyageurs and courreurs des bois. I do believe in consulting with Elders always, which is what I did here. Again I am sorry if this was offensive to you. All my relations

  12. Kiiro

    I’m not entirely sure that advertising the sale of an important traditional and cultural piece of regalia is all that respectful; at least, according to my experience with other Aboriginal nations. Then again, I do not know how one acquires a sash traditionally- are they woven by family or one’s self? Is there a certain age of which they are acquired? Are they ptely gifted? I am a Métis person who is still learning about this culture, and so I’m greatful for the research and topic you have written on! I mean no offense in any way, so please do not be upset. You did a great job in the article.

    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Kiiro
      thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it. I took another look at my article and you are right, I had not phrased it clearly enough that buying a sash is not something people should do just because they feel like it or want to accessorize with it. So I rephrased it and took out the ad. Ideally yes it should be gifted to you or made for you or by you and not bought as most regalia should.


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