The fiddle has figured prominently in the lifestyle of the Métis people for hundreds of years. It is the main instrument used in the Métis jigs.
The famous ‘Red River Jig’ has become the centrepiece of Métis music. Since this European instrument was exceedingly expensive in early Canada, especially for the grassroots Métis communities, many craftsmen learned how to make their own.
Today, the fiddle is still used in celebrations and is a symbol of our early beginnings and the joyful spirit in which we lived and grew. Communities hold fiddle and jigging contests and give the instrument as a symbolic gesture of nationhood and pride.
The Red River Jig, the unique dance developed by the Métis people, combines the intricate footwork of Native dancing with the instruments and form of European music. Often the Métis made their own fiddles out of available materials because they could seldom afford the steep price of European imports.
Traditionally, dancing started early in the evening and could last until dawn. Witnesses were dumbfounded by the energy and vitality spent on celebration, equaled only by the long, arduous day’s work necessary to keep Métis communities running.
Today, the Métis people still enjoy jigging, and have local, provincial and national dance teams who attend conferences, exhibitions and powwows.