Métis Music and Dance as Political Action
From the grooves pounded out by “old-style” Métis elders, to the squeaks and creaks of beginners learning to fiddle, to the thundering sound of Métis dance troupes, music and dance figure prominently in Métis cultural revival and resurgence. At the same time, settler Canadians have appropriated Métis music and dance for various purposes, including as a way to add a touch of colour to events that might otherwise seem ordinary.
As Canada Research Chair in Métis Music, Dr. Monique Giroux seeks to understand how Métis and settler communities mobilize Métis music and dance for political purposes. Focusing on Métis cultural and multicultural festivals, she addresses how music and dance support the re-emergence of the Métis Nation and foster alliances among Métis communities as well as between Métis and settler peoples. She is also exploring the power of music and dance to remake (or reinforce) unequal relations between peoples.
In addition, through archival work, Giroux and her research team are helping to repatriate Métis music and dance collections. This includes making archival materials more accessible to Métis communities, working toward Métis control over their musical belongings, and supporting Métis community members in creating new works that respond to these archival recordings.
Ultimately, Giroux’s research will support Métis re-emergence and self-determination. It will also challenge problematic, settler-created representations of Métis culture and address the appropriation of Métis culture.