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About this Project

The Métis Archival Project (MAP) research team at the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta, has provided the data and digital images for the Métis National Council Historical Online Database. Since 1999, MAP has taken an innovative digital approach to archival records. MAP researchers have specialized experience with databasing, microfilm, microfiche, digital scanning and photography, and image enhancement. Over the past several summers, groups of MAP researchers have traveled to Library and Archives Canada (formerly the National Archives of Canada and before that, the Public Archives of Canada), located in Ottawa, to conduct exhaustive archival searches for relevant scrip and Métis historical materials. Student researchers are an integral part of this research project. Based on our experience, the labour-intensive conversion of archival documents to digital text actually produces a more intimate understanding of the underlying social patterns encapsulated by the historical record. Previous research projects at MAP have demonstrated that student participation in applied research has fostered many successful professional researchers and has encouraged individuals to pursue Honours degrees, graduate studies or other related professional training.

The Métis National Council (MNC) Historical Online Database is a web-interfaced database that contains textual information extracted from archival documents relevant to the historical Métis Nation. The website also contains high-resolution digital photography and scans of many of the original documents represented in the database. The MNC Historical Online Database allows users to access Métis related archival information, previously only available at Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa) or on microfilm. Importantly, genealogists and Métis users of this website are able to construct Métis family trees using the documents in the database. Providing Métis users with access to their ancestors’ documents facilitates the process of cultural re-connection, identity reclamation, and nation building. The MNC Historical Online Database is also a powerful educational tool for teachers, students, curriculum development, and the general public.

The 1901 Census, Section 31 Manitoba Act Affidavits, and North West “Half-breed” Scrip Application records in this database represent information that was extracted from archival documents and entered into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and/or Filemaker Pro databases. The corresponding images for this data were scanned or digitally photographed. All of the above data was imported into a customized Oracle-based database designed by staff at the University of Alberta’s Academic Information and Communications Technology (AICT) department. This database is hosted by the University of Alberta Digital Object Repository (UADORe), formerly known as SunSITE. UADORe is an AICT initiative to help academics and researchers at the University of Alberta create and store their research work in a safe, secure and central digital repository.

As of March 2007, only the Section 31 Manitoba Act Affidavits and 1901 Census document series are thoroughly represented (within a 5% margin) in the MNC Historical Online Database. Small samples of the Northwest “Half-breed” Scrip Applications, 1881 Census, and 1891 Census document series are represented. Completion of these document series will require several more years of funding and development commitments. Other archival records that describe historical Métis populations (such as the Red River Censuses, 1827-1849) could also be included in the database. Work on the MNC Historical Online Database will be ongoing pending additional funding.

The Métis National Council Historical Online Database has been funded by the Métis National Council through contribution agreements with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The Métis National Council Historical Online Database is a product of the MNC’s National Research Initiative.

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