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Red Sky Métis Independent Nation™

The northern shore of Lake Superior in Northwestern Ontario enjoys a proud Métis history unique to the area.  French Métis fur traders originally settled in the area in the 1600’s when the land was considered uncivilized, savage and unsuitable for living.  Searching for a route across Canada, explorers such as Pierre LaVérendrye expanded westward from what is now Thunder Bay, along a southern route to the Lake of the Woods and Winnipeg areas while others searched for the Northwest Passage along a northern route.

The focus on a route across Canada did not deter the spirit of the Métis nor their determination to settle and raise their families along Lake Superior.  Already sharing a kinship with the Aboriginal peoples, a harmonious relationship with the nomadic Ojibway tribes was natural.  In fact, white visitors to the territory such as the Jesuit priests, could not distinguish between the Métis and the Ojibway.  The Métis men took Ojibway wives and operated a network of trading posts along the lake forming the first permanent settlements in the area where they raised their families.  It wasn’t until the 1840’s, that mining interests prompted additional settlements and highlighted a sovereign interest in the territory.

The Robinson Superior Treaty

The Robinson Treaties of 1850 marked a turning point in the history of Métis-Crown relations at the time.  Prior to these treaties, the Métis had worked with the Crown as translators and mediators in negotiating terms with First Nations bands. The difference this time was the inclusion of “half breeds” in the body of the treaties. The signing of the Robinson Superior Treaty acknowledged the existence of Métis communities in the territory and recognized their entitlement to share in annuities, hunting, and fishing rights as indigenous peoples of the land.

While the Crown representative, William Benjamin Robinson, refused to deal separately with the Métis at the time, he included the 84 half-breeds in the numbers who would receive annuities suggesting that the chiefs could determine what share they would receive.  In his report to Indian Affairs after the Treaties were signed, Robinson wrote:

I told them I came to treat with the chiefs who were present, that the money would be paid to them…that when in their [the chiefs’] possession they might give as much or as little to that class of claimants [the Métis] as they pleased.

The Chiefs, recognizing the value of the Métis, did not exclude them from receiving full treaty benefits.

A Separate Identity

Although the Crown aligned the original 84 Métis with their Ojibwa neighbours, they continued to maintain their status as a separate culture, with their own traditions and aspirations.

Even the name of the Red Sky Métis Independent Nation™ is imbedded in the cultural heritage of the area.  The skies were a navigational tool and a red sky was also used to predict weather conditions.  Handed down through the generations, the name is intended as a reverence to nature and the magnificence of the red skies seen along the trading routes.

The Red Sky Métis trace their ancestry in Canada back to 1506 and the arrival of Jehn Denys in Acadia.   Connected to Montreal and to the fur trade, these explorers married aboriginal women establishing a new generation of Canadians that embraced the cultures of both worlds.  By the 1600’s, they had established permanent settlements along the shores of Lake Superior that provided a foundation for the North West Company and, later, the Hudson’s Bay Company trading routes.

A Nation for the 21st Century

Approximately 8,000 members of Red Sky Métis Independent Nation reside in communities throughout the Robinson-Superior Treaty area as well as throughout Canada and other countries.  The administrative offices are based in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  While many members can trace their Aboriginal roots to the early 1600’s, membership is distinct to the descendents of the 84 half-breeds who were beneficiaries of the Robinson-Superior Treaty.

Before he passed away in October 2004, former Métis Chief Roy DeLaRonde, passed his sash to his son, Troy, who now presides as Métis Chief.  As his father before him, Métis Chief Troy DeLaRonde is dedicated to preserving and celebrating a Métis identity and history that recognizes not only the Métis contribution to the formation of this country, but as the original settlers in the Robinson-Superior Treaty territory.