My name is Sébastien Malette. I am an Associate Professor at the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada). My work focuses on Aboriginal Law; in particular, on access to justice, Indigenous legal traditions, relational politics, and worldviews.

I am part of the Muskrat French Métis Community, which regroups French Métis (Muskrat) families and descendants originating from the southern Great lakes/Midwest region/Old Illinois region. I have also been a collaborator with the Canada Research Chair on Métis identity-based in St-Boniface (Manitoba). I am currently a member of the Carleton University Institute on the Ethics of Research with Indigenous Peoples.


IMG_1244Le repos de Louis Riel, St-Boniface, MB/Credit sash: Fleché authentique, by Madame France Hervieux (L’Assomption, Québec).


My research problematizes the relationships between Law and Indigeneity as both enabling and disrupting relations of domination affecting countries and communities with colonial histories. My interest revolves around the notion of governmentality and the analysis of power relations and regimes of truth, as developed by French thinker Michel Foucault.

Part of my work also focuses on ostracized Métis or “mixed-Heritage” Indigenous communities, their histories and resilience—with a special focus on newly-crafted exclusionary narratives, policing of Indigenous identities, and the problem of lateral violence.

I have co-written a book, published in 2016, on the forgotten history of the Métis peoples across the United States, with a particular focus on Métis communities in the state of Oregon, entitled Songs Upon the Rivers. The Buried History of the French-Speaking Canadiens and Métis from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi cross the Pacific (Baraka, 2016, 442 pages).

This book makes the groundbreaking argument that Métis ethnogenesis has to be understood using a rhizomatous model whereby nodes of identity would emerge linked by networks covering thousands of miles and tied together by a shared culture (that is without a unique center). It suggests the existence of a Métis culture connected continentally through different regional expressions, made visible primarily through the historical presence of Indigenous and French métissage in the context of the fur trade and ongoing colonial conflicts (Review by Jennifer S.H. Brown here).

Songs Upon the Rivers also addresses the danger of current neo-nationalist Métis ideology, which, we argue, conflates a single ethno-nationalist discourse on the historical origin of the “Métis nation” with the condition of the possibility of Métis ethnogenesis elsewhere in Canada and the United States.

Songs Upon the Rivers was the top-ranked book on Canada’s History Top Ten Bestsellers list for over two months. Having sold out the first print-run, a new revised edition was produced correcting some errant typos.


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A pressing contemporary question remains, however: can a historical Métis presence in Québec be legitimately upheld?

Detractors say there can be no true Métis in Québec, yet in our upcoming book entitled Les Bois-Brûlés de l’Outaouais. Une étude ethnoculturelle des Métis de la Gatineau (Michel Bouchard, Sebastien Malette, Guillaume Marcotte, foreword by Michel Noel, Presse de L’université Laval, 320 pages), we propose that there are deep Métis roots in western Québec. The evidence attests to the emergence of a diasporic historical Métis community that was tied to the regions fur trade in the late 18th and first half of the 19th century.

This study of the Métis community of the Gatineau Valley opens a new chapter in our understanding of the Métis in Québec historiography, integrating the Outaouais region into the history of the continental fur trade and Métis history.

This book documents the long-forgotten Métis community, bringing together an impressive collection of unpublished archival and oral history records. By adopting a comparative approach, the three authors combine their expertise in anthropology, legal studies and history to present an academic account of the Métis identity and historical experience of the Gatineau Valley from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present day.

Tracing two centuries of history, Bois-Brûlés urges us to rethink Métis Indigeneity in Québec. An English and augmented version of our book, Bois-Brûlés. The Untold Story of the Métis of Western Québec, is expected to be released with UBC in 2020 (Spring). The link for more info here.


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