Returning to Ceremony

Spirituality in Manitoba Métis Communities

Chantal Fiola (Author)


Returning to Ceremony is the follow-up to Chantal Fiola’s award-winning Rekindling the Sacred Fire and continues her ground-breaking examination of Métis spirituality, debunking stereotypes such as “all Métis people are Catholic,” and “Métis people do not go to ceremonies.” Fiola finds that, among the Métis, spirituality exists on a continuum of Indigenous and Christian traditions, and that Métis spirituality includes ceremonies. For some Métis, it is a historical continuation of the relationships their ancestral communities have had with ceremonies since time immemorial, and for others, it is a homecoming—a return to ceremony after some time away.

Fiola employs a Métis-specific and community-centred methodology to gather evidence from archives, priests’ correspondence, oral history, storytelling, and literature. With assistance from six Métis community researchers, Fiola listened to stories and experiences shared by thirty-two Métis from six Manitoba Métis communities that are at the heart of this book. They offer insight into their families’ relationships with land, community, culture, and religion, including factors that inhibit or nurture connection to ceremonies such as sweat lodge, Sundance, and the Midewiwin. Valuable profiles emerge for six historic Red River Métis communities (Duck Bay, Camperville, St Laurent, St François-Xavier, Ste Anne, and Lorette), providing a clearer understanding of identity, culture, and spirituality that uphold Métis Nation sovereignty.


"Grounded in the communities of her home territory, Chantal Fiola brings critical insider knowledge, insight and analysis to the topic of Metis spirituality. The combination of historical background with contemporary voice offers an understanding of the Metis spirit that will nurture the nation and enlighten the broader public."

Kim Anderson, Author of Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings and Story Medicine.

"Returning to Ceremony is a courageous book given the tensions surrounding religious affiliation in the Metis community. It is a challenging topic that has been dealt with sensitively, with balance and candour."

Blair Stonechild, Author of The New Buffalo

"While the experiences of ‘divisions like those discussed by the Métis people in this study can result in confusion, shame, a lack of confidence in identity and subsequently, an avoidance of ceremonies,’ Fiola’s book shows a deep desire among modern Métis to reconnect and engage in a resurgence of these ceremonies."

Claire Grenier, The Journal of Australian, Canadian, and Aotearoa New Zealand Studies (JACANZS)

"This book is a rare and unique contribution to Indigenous spirituality literature and the lifting up of oral history voices of Métis peoples from Métis communities."

Anna Corrigal Flaminio, Indigenous Religious Traditions


Manitoba Day Award, Association of Manitoba Archives (2020)
Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction (2022)

About the Author

Chantal Fiola is Michif (Red River Métis) with family from St. Laurent and Ste. Geneviève, Manitoba. She is the author of Rekindling the Sacred Fire and Returning to Ceremony. Dr. Fiola is an Associate Professor in the Urban and Inner-City Studies Department at the University of Winnipeg, where she was named Distinguished Indigenous Scholars Chair (2021-2024). Chantal is Two-Spirit, Midewiwin, a Sundancer, and lives with her wife and daughter in Winnipeg.

Table of Contents

Ch 1: Métis Spirituality: Confronting Stereotypes
Ch 2: Searching for Our Stories in Oral History
Ch 3: Combing the Written Record for Our Stories
Ch 4: A Métis-Centred Study and Approach
Ch 5: Six Red River Métis Communities
Ch 6: Meeting the Participants
Ch 7: Métis Family Relationships with Land, Language, and Identity
Ch 8: Métis Family Relationships with Culture and Religion Ch 6: Sunnyside and the Beach
Ch 9: Exploring Self-Identification
Ch 10: Spirituality, Types of Ceremonies, and Disconnection Factors
Ch 11: Connection Factors, Impacts upon Identity, and Others’ Reactions
Ch 11: Métis Spirituality Today

University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.