The Métis are well known as speakers of many languages. In the past many Métis spoke up to five or six languages, including Michif, French, English, Cree, Ojibway and Bungee.
Historically, the Métis were the lifeblood of the west. Their ability to communicate in so many languages was incredibly useful in the many occupations of the Métis. The Métis were the voyageurs, the buffalo hunters, boatmen, fisherman, traders, small business owners, lumbermen, farmers, cattlemen and of course, highly regarded interpreters. To this day many Métis people still speak or understand multiple languages.
“The Métis also have a long tradition of adapting aspects of First Nations and European culture to better suit their needs. Language is no exception. The languages most widely used by the Prairie Métis people were Michif-French, Michif-Cree and Bungee. The first language is a dialect of Prairie French; the second is a distinct language like no other in the world. All the nouns and associated grammar are Plains Cree. These are both very unique adaptations of the Métis people. Bungee or Bungi (see M Stobie, 1968; and E. Blain. 1989, 1994), a now extinct language, consisted of Gaelic and Cree mixed with French and Saulteaux.”
Deconstructing Métis Historiography: Giving Voice to the Métis People, L. Dorion, D. R. Préfontaine, in Métis Legacy, Pemmican Publications, 2001
The Michif language which was once common in Métis Communities and is now considered an endangered language as there are fewer that 1000 people who speak it.
Today the Michif language is making a comeback due to the cultural resurgence of the Métis people. Speaking Michif, and Speaking Michif-French, both developed by the Louis Riel Institute provides teachers, interested individuals and families with beginner lessons.