Abstract – Cheryl Troupe

Cheryl Troupe, “Métis Women:  Social Structure, Urbanization and Political Activism, 1850-1980,” M.A. thesis, Department of Native Studies, 2009.  Supervisor:  Brenda Macdougall.

Abstract

This thesis explores how nineteenth century Métis concepts of family and community have found expression in post-1930s urban development, governance and political activism. In this study, genealogical methods and participant interviews have been used to examine the social, economic and political role of women in 19th century Métis families and communities in order to determine the extent to which these traditional roles were carried forward into an urban context prior to World War II. Based on this research, it was concluded that female kinship relationships were central in structuring and determining the bounds of this Métis community despite economic changes, community movement, physical relocation and political upheaval in both traditional and contemporary contexts. By organizing in ways that were familiar and consistent with past practices, urban Métis women in the early twentieth century had the opportunity and flexibility to informally politicize community issues and recruit organization participants. Over time, the political role played by women evolved and they began to take leading roles in the day-to- day operation of programs and services. By the 1960s-70s, urban Métis women began to formally assert their political will and move from “behind the scenes” into more public leadership roles. Throughout this evolution, concepts of family, kinship and tradition remained the core organization concept for this community. Through the expression of these 19th century traditions, Métis women have made a significant contribution to post-1930 urban development, governance and political activism.