Rethinking the Foundations of Canada: from Historical Records to Life Experiences. The Case of Peter Fidler

  • Dani Nowosad


This paper analyzes personal and professional relationships among Métis people in Manitoba. It does so by positioning two stories alongside one another. The first concerns the author’s own experience, where the confirmation of Métis status relies upon the physical historical accounting of ancestral relationship to Indigenous bloodlines. The second concerns the author’s ancestor, Peter Fidler. Fidler documented much of the unexplored land west of Hudson Bay, and notably wintered with the Chipewyan tribe of Northern Saskatchewan (Allan 1987). He transcribed and incorporated traditional Indigenous mapmaking techniques into his works (Beattie 1985), which set him apart from other colonial surveyors. Fidler married a Swampy Cree woman named Mary and they raised a family of fourteen together. This paper argues that, while uneven geographical and historical relationships persist to the present day, Fidler’s work in negotiating identity and place at the intersection of Cree and European cultures in Canada remain crucial points of understanding.