Frontier is a fictionalized story, but most of the big lines of history are being respected.
I have never been a fan of the Baie Company and was shocked when they decided to rebrand back to the Baie D’hudson Company after all the horrors and corruption they had done (smallpox infested blankets, asking that fur be worn upside down by native women to make it softer with their sweat knowing that it caused health issues, etc.), I would have thought that they would want to separate themselves from such a violent and horrible past, not celebrate it.
As usual, The company counted on people having very short memories and little knowledge of their own history and they were right, which is incredibly disappointing. This way they can concentrate their marketing on the positive exploit, like being the oldest company in North America and brush under the carpet any negative historical facts about their creation and growth. Once again, money speaks louder than respect and honesty.
The Hudson Baie Company was founded in 1670 by wealthy English merchant and was granted the monopoly over the fur trade by the King of England even though the land didn’t belong to them. It was about power and greed. Native Americans and Métis were essential to the Hudson Baie Company as they were trappers. They would trade fur for other goods such as riffle, ammunition, needles, axes, etc. Some came willingly, others were intimidated into trade agreements.
Natives were referred as savages and children between Caucasians and Native Americans were originally referred to as half-breeds. Both were seen as lesser than human. Both were told to be untrusty, nothing more than animals. Racism was rampant, especially by rich white men and men of the cloth who stood to gain wealth and power by keeping others down. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
In the very first episode, before the opening music even starts, the Métis is ruthless and leave one survivor to send a message. I know this to be accurate as I have heard similar stories spoken by my elders, my community and other acquaintance. I’m a listener with a great interest in history so people have a tendency to open up to me. I have been blessed to hear so many heartfelt and difficult stories of past events, to hear of trauma and happiness. To see how these events have affected the world we live in today.
In the opening sequence, the English Métis flag floats proudly, which made me smile right away. I wish to have caught a hint of the French Métis Flag as it is my own and there is a sense of pride and excitement when it is displayed to for all to see. I have myself met M. Gabriel Dufault, president of the National Union Métis Saint-Joseph of Manitoba (UNMSJM) and Raymond Cyr, Métis elder and leader of East co-founders of the East-West Métis Union.
I like that they took a real Quebecois to play the role of the French middleman fur tradesman.
I like that the series shows that Native Woman had power and leadership. This was not initially recognized in history books.
I like that the series shows that being mixed blood, doesn’t mean that you fit in both worlds, but that instead, you don’t really fit in either. I am Métis in the 21st century and I do feel this way.
I love how it shows First Nations people and Métis showing white people how to survive the winter in the wilderness.
I say the series is worth the watch.
Some names/characters and places you may want to learn more about in history:
Fort Severn First Nation (Fort James) built in 1689 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. It was one of the earliest English fur trading posts.
William Grant born in 1743 and died on November 20, 1810. He was a Scottish-born fur trader and businessman in Lower Canada.